BY ADEBAYO WAHEED, Ibadan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it is tired of being cajoled by the federal government’s consistent failure to honour agreements reached with the union.
The union stated that the plan of the federal government to use hunger by withholding salaries of lecturers as a weapon to weaken its agitation and demands would not work.
ASUU stated that Nigerian university lecturers earn least salaries when compared with, “Chief Lecturers in some tertiary institutions, who were not required to supervise post graduate students or conduct research, earn more than professors in our lopsided education system.
Ibadan Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Ade Adejumo, made the disclosures on Wednesday during a press conference to give an update on the strike action.
Adejumo who spoke through Prof Moyo Ajao, Chairperson, Unilorin ASUU urged well-meaning Nigerians to compel government to release the withheld salaries of its members, remit the check-off dues of the union to the rightful owner and speed up the process of testing the integrity of UTAS so that it may be deployed for payment beginning from January 2021.
Describing the ongoing disagreement on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as a distraction to the demands of the Union, Adejumo noted that apart from the IPPIS being a cesspool of corruption, it is strange that the government would lump the payment of lecturers together with that of civil servants as such is not done anywhere in the world.
He said, “Government against international labour laws opted to use hunger as a weapon against us. Our members have been battered by the suspension of our salaries for several months but rather than capitulate and throw our universities to the dogs to suit the interest of the politicians, we have decided to weather the storm until the needful is done.
“Just as our able President, Comrade Biodun Ogunyemi, said recently, the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) is a distraction to the union. Apart from IPPIS being a cesspool of corruption as many Nigerians who are at its receiving end have attested to, there is no serious-minded country in the world where university lecturers and intellectual assets of the country are lumped together in payment with the civil service.
“Nigerians and the international community should be aware that despite the ongoing negotiations, the Government has refused to pay our salaries and allowances. It has also callously withheld the check-off dues of some of our members, who were selectively paid amputated salaries, in order to starve the union of the energy needed to sustain the negotiations.
“Government appears to be keen about making lecturers commit suicide, as some have been doing, due to economic hardship, though no society progresses beyond its education. It is a rough road but we continue to trudge on because when the going gets tough, only the tough get going.
“We can only appeal to our members to continue to persevere the same way we persevered during the inglorious days of military misrule.
“At this stage of the struggle, Nigerians are urged to compel the government to release the withheld salaries of our members, remit the check-off dues of the union to the rightful owner, pay us the same way it had paid our arbitrarily handpicked members without subjecting them to IPPIS registration and speed up the process of testing the integrity of UTAS so that it may be deployed for payment beginning from January 2021.
“We are ready to suspend the strike as our children too are tired of staying at home but we cannot work on empty stomachs while politician’s homes and warehouses are filled with palliative materials that they don’t even need.
“Let the politicians note that the interest of Nigeria and the future generations is more paramount to ASUU than the immediate gains of its members. That is what ASUU has been consistent in challenging the rots in the system through sustained engagements with powers that be since the time of the military.
“The gains of ASUU struggles are in the changes that TETFund has been able to bring to the tertiary education sector in the country and ASUU will not relent in pushing for a better university system in the country.
“The road may be tough, the burden is huge but ASUU remains committed in saving our public universities and not making them suffer a lot of our public schools.”
The press conference was also attended by ASUU chairpersons from the zone including Dr Femi Abanikanda (Osun State University), Dr Dauda Adeshola (Kwara State University), Prof Ayoola Akinwole (University of Ibadan), and Prof Olusiji Sowande Lagos Zonal Coordinator, ASUU.
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