The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), today Friday, May 22, 2023, denied receipt or payment of salary arrears allegedly being paid by the Federal Government to its members across the country, saying it is one of the ploys of government to smear it.
The denial is coming on the heels of a news item in the media that the Federal Government has commenced the payment of minimum wage arrears, which it owed lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as part of the efforts to end the ongoing strikes by the unions.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in a chat explained that none of its members has been paid a dime.
“I am not aware of that. We don’t even trust them because they can go to a bank and pay a few people and announce to the public that they have commenced payment.
“I called about 10 branches and none has received a payment alert for whatever reason.
Asked about the meetings held with the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, the ASUU President said, “Nothing significant has happened within the last one week apart from the meeting held with the Chief of Staff where it was promised that all issues would be resolved within one week. Nothing has happened and the one-week timeline has expired.
“That is why we don’t trust them when they asked us to call off the strike first. The issues of trust and goodwill are important in negotiations”.
On the intervention by the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), Osodeke said regrettably that the Council does not understand the workings of the government.
“With all due respect to NIREC that intervened, they do not understand the government. They will solicit on behalf of the government and such intercession will be abandoned.
“No next line of action because we are already on strike. We cannot call off the strike when the people we want to discuss with are not to be trusted. We cannot. If we call off the strike today, they will just go to sleep like they have done in the past and nothing tangible will happen, “he added.
Speaking on the alleged invasion of peaceful protest by students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, in Akure by men of the Nigerian Army and the Police, the ASUU President said since students have the right to education and react to whatever could stand in their way against this mission, they equally have the right to protest peacefully.
“If students take to the streets, it is their right, if the government has infringed on their rights to quality education and right to be in school. Education is a right and not a privilege.
“It is surprising that the government has been dilly dallying on an issue that can be resolved without wasting time. People in government are alleged to have embezzled all the money required to revitalise the education sector and one of them has been arrested for allegedly taking N80billion.
“Another one has also been accused of embezzling N49billion.
“These are just two embezzling N129billion in total. If the search is intensified we will be talking about some trillions of naira stolen from the government purse.
“The same man that was alleged of taking N80billion is the same person that said Nigeria does not have money provided the allegation is true. That is why we do not trust the government having talked about the issues over and over again”, Osodeke submitted.
The ASUU boss appealed to the government to ensure that the military do not instigate violence among students as they did in Ondo, even as he recalled that the students had gone out for a second-day protest in the state over the lingering strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
According to him, ASUU has embarked on strike action against the Federal Government to protest and make some demands bordering on the welfare packages of its members as well as the overall development of the education sector.
Few months after ASUU commenced its strike, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) followed and also declared a warning strike to press home its demand for increased welfare.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.