HomeGeneralASUU Threatens Strike Over Unpaid Salaries From Buhari Era

ASUU Threatens Strike Over Unpaid Salaries From Buhari Era

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has warned that it would embark on a strike should the Federal Government continue to withhold lecturers salaries pending since 2022 under former President Muhammadu Buhari.

ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, issues the threat in an interview on Channels Television on Thursday.

Osodeke said it was unfair for the Federal Government to pay lecturers four months of their 2022 withheld salaries and hold on to salaries of three-and-half months.

He said, “It’s not about paying four months out of the seven-and-half months’ withheld salaries.”

According to him, 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 is 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 said the two-week ultimatum given to the government began on May 13, 2024.

He said ASUU members must be fully paid for the entire period of the industrial action in 2022.

He added that the Tinubu administration has not done lecturers any favours by clearing four of their about eight months’ withheld salaries.

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 a 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.

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 following a directive by President Tinubu.

Osodeke said, “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.”

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 ASUU president 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 added 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.

Recall that 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 President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration 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.

But, 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.

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