The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to go on strike if the 13 months salaries of over 1,000 of its members across the country are not paid.
This is coming barely 6 months after the lecturers union had suspended its 9-month industrial action due to a dispute with the Federal Government over the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS), funding of the universities and others.
This disclosure was contained in a statement issued by the Chairman, University of Jos Chapter of ASUU, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, on Saturday, in Jos, saying that the Federal Government had also withheld the check-off dues of the affected members.
Maigoro accused Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General of Federation (AGF), of systematically denying the lecturers their remuneration, even after the government and the union had reached an agreement on non-victimisation of its members following their last strike.
He alleged that the affected members were being threatened to either enrol into the IPPIS platform or have their salaries withheld.
What the Chairman of ASUU, University of Jos chapter is saying
Maigoro said that the AGF had refused to pay the affected ASUU members, in complete violation of the terms of the agreement signed between the union and the government, despite the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, that they should be paid their full remuneration.
He added that the office of the AGF had continued to give incorrect reasons such as incorrect BVN numbers, incorrectly spelt names and their sequential arrangement, among others, to the public and some sections of government over the matter.
The ASUU Chairman said, “ASUU wants to bring to the attention of the Nigerian public the deliberate, systematic and unpatriotic actions of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, on the future of education in Nigeria.
Idris, from all intent and purposes, is bent on withholding the salaries of over 1,000 members of ASUU spread across the country, with more than 100 of such lecturers being members of our branch at the University of Jos.
This is simply because they participated in the last strike and refused to enrol in the much discredited IPPIS, despite the non-victimisation clause signed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) that led to the suspension of the strike in December 2020.
Despite the directive given by Mr President to pay the salaries of all lecturers, the AGF has refused to pay their salaries, for periods ranging from four to thirteen months, respectively.
More worrisome is the fact that while the AGF is refusing to pay the salaries, his staff are busy calling the affected lecturers and insisting they have to register with IPPIS before they are paid; some are even asked to forfeit a part of their salaries in order to be paid. So, it is very clear that this is a deliberate act on the part of the AGF and his staff.
Many of our members at the University of Jos have not been paid salaries from February 2020 to date. How they are expected to go to the classroom and teach beats my imagination.
It is not news, that our union have vowed to fight back at any cost in order to salvage our colleagues from his tyranny and unpatriotic act against not just ASUU members, but the future of education in Nigeria and so, if nothing is urgently done, we will be forced to take action.
The union has gotten to a stage where it may be forced to take drastic measures to save the lives and families of its members because their despair is also our collective despair,” Maigoro said.
While calling on President Buhari to wade into the matter, Maigoro also said that the inability of the government to pay other allowances, such as sabbatical, visiting, part-time and contract staff was also destroying the university system in the country.
What you should know
It can be recalled that ASUU embarked on strike action in March 2020, following its disagreement with the Federal Government over the funding of the universities and implementation of the IPPIS, which according to the union, negates the autonomy policy for the universities.
ASUU had called off its 9-month old strike after the Federal Government agreed to some of its conditions which includes the deployment of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) software for payment of its salaries and allowances.
However, the report suggests that months after the conditional suspension of the strike embarked upon by ASUU, the Federal Government has allegedly not been able to meet all the agreements, which includes the payment of the lecturers’ outstanding salaries and allowances owed since 2020 salaries.