ASUU Chides FG on Delay in Payment of Withheld Salaries

June 26, 2024

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Ilorin branch, yesterday chided the federal government over unjustifiable delay in payment of the outstanding balance of the three and half months of withheld salaries of members of the nation’s universities.

The union also criticised the federal government over appointment of aged Nigerians as members of tertiary institutions governing councils, saying that it’s unacceptable that octogenarians would drive the development agenda of the 24th century.

“Go and see the compositions of the people appointed across the governing council of our tertiary institutions; you are looking at people that are old. As academics, our concern is this: we are looking at octogenarians to drive 24th-century development agenda; can they do it.? No! That’s the barbaric and unacceptable level to which this government has taken the country,” said the Unilorin branch chairman of the union, Dr Alex Akanmu, while addressing a press conference in Ilorin at the main office of the university on Tuesday.

He also noted: “the unjustifiable delay in payment of our due remuneration only mirrors attempt to frustrate the commitment and dedication of the academic staff who have continued to fulfill their responsibilities to students and the broader academic community.”

“We are convinced of this legitimate demand for the payment of our withheld salaries and condemn this slave-master attitude of the government”, Akanmu said.

The union leader said: “It is twenty months and few days of resumption from the 2022 industrial action with no positive development from the government on our demands of payment of outstanding Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) in spite of being captured in the 2023 Budget and or mainstreaming to our salaries with effect from 2022.

“The payment of our EAA till date remains a mirage while the government has acted unconcerned in the face of stringent economic situation.”

The chairman, however, said: “the leadership of the union has commenced consultations and mobilisations across all other branches in the country in order to enable the federal government realise the need to fulfill their demands.”

Akanmu also berated the insensitivity of the Federal Government towards the demands of the ASUU in the past few years, despite various agreements reached, but not long fulfilled.

According to him, “Needless to bother you of the open secret of our demands that led to the last industrial action, for which government is still owing us three and half months already devalued withheld salaries, but we should inform you that nothing has changed, and indeed, the situation is getting worse by the day given the insensitivity, carefree, and recalcitrant posture of the government.

“Barely a year ago, when the present administration was inaugurated, hopes were high on timely resolution of our demands and agitations, given the pseudo-democratic roles played by some prominent elements now in government.

“True to nature, they acted contrary and have been more anti-labour in their operation. With joint efforts supplied from the understanding that we have a country to rescue, we assure you that we shall overcome.

“For avoidance of doubt, few of our issues with the government are here again brought to the attention of the public, especially the FGN-ASUU renegotiation of 2009 agreement.

“It is no longer a secret that our negotiated take home pay since 2009 has not changed (15 years ago!). The government, instead, of committing itself to negotiated welfare packages, including our take-home, revitalization of our institutions, and proper funding, in addition to stoppage of proliferation of institutions without structure to support such, has conscientiously maintained lines of frustration, blackmail, and use of hunger as weapons to demystify the essence of our struggles.

“Moving from Babalakin to Jubril and late Briggs Committees, we have remained on the same spot of failed promises and deceit from the government.”

The chairman also added: “You recall the role played by the then Minister of Labour and Employment to truncate the negotiation, causing division among members and blackmailing our union for legitimate demands.

“He is today on the wrong side of history, and generations to come shall be reminded of their fathers’ actions in the shortest possible time. It is scriptural to remind all other agents of government that old prophets and forefathers do not live forever!

“The consequences of this needless and prolonged negotiation are, first, the avoidable exodus of scholars and, second, low morale of the workforce, who are left behind in giving the very best to the system.

“We therefore call on the government to, without further delay, sign and execute the Briggs’s report, which itself will be due for review in a short time from now. Government should be aware that there is nowhere in the world where wage awards replace negotiated wages.”

The union also expressed disappointment over the harrowing experience Nigerians are going through at the hands of the current administration, saying, “When this government came on board over a year ago, hopes were so high because of the roles played by some elements who we assumed they were democratic. But as soon as they assumed power, they displayed in full anti-labour traits in them.

“When you see a government that is anti-people and anti-labour activities, you don’t need a soothsayer to perceive the kind of government it is.”

Dr Akanmu also faulted the irregularities of the federal government in the appointments of members of the university governing council.

He said: “As a law-abiding government, you have to follow the dictates of the law. You disbanded a governing council whimsically only for you to summon another one, and after that, you also composed another one.’”

“And if you check through all the policies of this government, they are either World Bank-driven or IMF-driven. This is a government that is removing whatever subsidy that has been existing on our commodities. They’re going for our jugular, and we are going to resist it,” he declared.