Academic activities in the country’s universities may be disrupted once more, as members of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) have threatened to go on strike over the Accountant General of the Federation’s (AGF) alleged refusal to pay salaries and remit check-off dues to about 1000 employees for the past 13 months.
Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, chairman of the ASUU University of Jos chapter, accused the AGF of reportedly fostering conflict between the union and the Federal Government, which could lead to another round of strike.
Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, President of ASUU, said that despite the government’s promise to pay all due salaries by December 31, 2020, members in many of the branches are still owed money.
Members’ paychecks are being withheld, according to Osodeke, in order to force them to enroll in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
He said: “There are lecturers that are paid for few months, after one or two months, they stopped paying them, and all sorts of funny things. We have met with the minister of labour and employment; we even cascaded it to the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, but the office of the AGF seems to be adamant on punishing members.
On the next line of action, the ASUU chief said there are procedure for embarking on strike and the union will follow that procedure.”
Asked if the union had made any attempt to meet with officials from the office of the AGF, Osodeke said: “We have our principle of engagement with government. The agreement we reached in December was brokered by the Minister of Labour and Employment, and we also agreed to meet from time to time to look at the issues. We met in May and raised all these issues with the Accountant-General’s Office present at the meeting.
“They tried to deny the fact that some of our members are being owed. And we were able to prove with available data that they were lying and they accepted and agreed to implement. If any of our members enroll in IPPIS today, officials from the office of the AGF will pay you the next day, which means that what they are doing is deliberate.”
“We have sent data of our members to them more than four to five times – complete data. They will request for one today we will send, and the next month our members will still not be paid. But if any of our members decides to register, they will pay all their arrears. It is a deliberate attempt.”
“They even came last month to request for data and we sent to them. As we speak, more than 1000 of our members are still being owed 16 months. Bursars of each university have sent their documentation and all corrections to the office of the Accountant-General, yet they are not paying our members,” Osodeke added.
He claims that officials are attempting to blackmail ASUU members by using hunger as a weapon to persuade them to join IPPIS. “It’s bad that they’re attempting to destroy the university system for personal motives, and I believe it’s wrong. We’ll convene, obtain reports from all of our branches, and gather all available evidence before the union takes action.”
After a long strike by ASUU over unresolved concerns with the Federal Government, including IPPIS, payment of Earned Academic Allowances, and revitalisation of tertiary institutions, the country’s universities were closed for nine months.
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