Salary Arrears: ASUU vows ‘no pay, no work’ after two weeks

194

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has vowed to strike after two weeks if President Bola Tinubu’s administration fails to pay withholding salaries to public university academics.

ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke stated that it is wrong for the Federal Government to pay professors four months of their 2022 withholding salary while keeping the remaining three and a half months.

“It’s not about paying four months out of the seven-and-half months’ withheld salaries,” a displeased Osodeke said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday. He argued that public universities in the country have so far covered the work for the period that they were on strike in 2022 and should be duly paid.

“Every university in Nigeria today are in the 2023/2024 academic year which means that by September/October, they will be in the 2024/2025 academic year. The implication of this is that all the work for which we were not paid when we were on strike, we have covered them by making sacrifices.

“None of our members have gone on leave in the past three to four years, we have not gone on vacation so that we can cover the work that we didn’t do while we were on strike which we have covered. You can check, ask the students. But when you said you are paying four out of seven-and-half, I don’t think you are being fair to us,” the ASUU president stated, adding that the two-week ultimatum to the government began on May 13, 2024.

In 2022, academic and non-academic unions in Nigeria embarked on an eight-month strike to press home some of their demands including a better welfare package. The administration of then President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently invoked a ‘no work, no pay policy’ against the unions but President Bola Tinubu, in October 2023, approved the release of four of the about eight months withheld salaries.

ASUU members were paid four months of the withheld salaries while members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) were not paid at all. The two non-academic unions were on strike earlier in March while Education Minister Tahir Mamman said the government would consider half pay for them.

Osodeke said ASUU members must be fully paid for the entire period of the industrial action in 2022. He submitted that the Tinubu administration has not done lecturers any favours by clearing four of their about eight months’ withheld salaries.

ASUU members protest at the University of Ibadan on Monday, November 28, 2022

‘FG Awards Road Contracts Worth Trillions Yet Fails To Pay Us ₦200bn’

Osodeke said if the Federal Government can award road contracts worth trillions, billions for university workers should not be a problem

“We don’t want to hear that ‘we don’t have money’ because if a government can award contract of ₦15 or ₦13 trillion naira to construct a road and we are asking for just ₦200bn for Nigerian universities, all of them. If they (the government) have that money (for road construction), they should have money for us.

“Pay the three-and-half months’ salaries that are still being withheld having completed the work. It’s ‘no work, no pay’, we have done the work, they should pay us if not we will also bring the theory of ‘no pay, no work’,” he said.

The ASUU president lamented that many lecturers are leaving the country because they are not well remunerated. “A lecturer still earns about $300. it was $1500 when we negotiated the agreement in 2009,” he said.

‘Illegal Contracts, Recruitments’

The ASUU president said no one can imagine a university without a functional Governing Council.

He said many illegal contracts and recruitments have been carried out by universities in the last 11 months since the National Universities Commission (NUC) dissolved the Governing Councils of all federal universities sequel to a directive by President Tinubu.

“Nobody anticipated that we will have a university that will run for two weeks without a Governing Council but Nigerian universities, all of them, have been running for the past 11 months without Governing Councils, which means that all the actions taken in terms of employment, contract awards and what have you have passed through illegal process,” Osodeke stated.

He said it doesn’t take 11 months to constitute a Governing Council, adding that no university in the world operates without a functional Governing Council.

The professor said the tenure of the council for each university is four years, with six members from the government, and about 10 or 11 elected members from the university. He argued that the number of members by any university is far more than that of government representatives hence the government cannot dissolve the councils arbitrarily.

“People were recruited and we have evidence, contracts were awarded illegally, we have evidence. We should not be part of illegality and that is why we have given this two-week (ultimatum). After the two weeks, if this illegality does not stop, and all other issues…if these are not done, our union will meet, consider all the issues and think of what to do.”

Osodeke said there has been no formal meeting between ASUU and any of the organs of the current government so far. “That is why we have to take this action having used all the other avenues,” he said.

“The negotiation of the agreement that started in 2017 should be concluded, reinstate the dissolve Governing Councils, owed earned academic allowances should be paid,” he concluded.