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Monday, January 8, 2018

NASU, NAAT and SSANU insist that Strike continues

The non - teaching staff in the universities have said that their members will not resume work today until the Federal Government pays them their earned allowances totalling over N66 billion. The Federal Government had promised to mop up money for the non- teaching staff comprising the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU, and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, alleging that the N23 billion released to the 4 university unions was hijacked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. 

Meanwhile, there appears to be internal wrangling and suspicion between the non- teaching staff under the umbrella of Joint Action Committee, JAC, and ASUU, over the N23 biliion released as earned allowances. As a result of the strike by the 4 unions over government’s non-implementation of agreements especially on earned allowances, the ASUU, which had the upper hand in the committee set up by the government went home with about N18 billion, leaving the balance of about N4 billion to the three unions.

Meanwhile SSANU National spokesman - A.O Salaam spoke recently and revealed the following:
"On the issue of Earned Academic Allowances vis a vis Earned Allowances, it is unfortunate that the public is being confused on the issue. As far as we are concerned, the three non- teaching unions negotiated Earned Allowances with the Federal Government in 2009. As far as we are concerned, there is nothing called Earned Academic Allowances because that’s not what was negotiated. There may be a group that is demanding Earned Academic Allowances but if we are to look at it dispassionately and from an enlightened perspective, the term Earned Allowance is more generic and cuts across the academic and non- teaching sectors. Unfortunately, the inclusion of the word academic, was intended to cause confusion and to create tensions and I think that agenda has succeeded".
"Earned Allowances, agitations had been on and in 2013, a first tranche of N30 billion was paid. This first tranche went through the due accounting and auditing process before payment. Each university was allocated a fraction of the monthly personnel overheads to cater for the Earned Allowances. Because the money was to be earned, University Council Committees were set up, with evidential submissions from the Registrars and Bursars to justify the eligibility of each staff for the various categories of allowances. In line with standards, only the Bursaries and Registries, being custodians of information and records, can provide information on who gets what in the system". 

"At the end of the 2013 payment, while it is natural for some people to assume that they were underpaid because it’s money issues, the general consensus was that it was fair and fool proof. In fact, in most universities, when it was discovered that most junior academic staff would not be getting any payment, many universities devised what was described as a doctrine of universal happiness, where the junior academics were paid Hazard Allowance, a component of the Earned Allowance for non- teaching staff. At the end of the day, there was peace".
"The payment made in 2017 however witnessed the most macabre display of corruption and incompetence. After our September strike and the MOU reached, it was agreed that the money was Earned Allowance and not Earned Academic Allowances and it would be allocated between the teaching and non- teaching staff. A modus operandi was defined for the payment which would have made everything easy. This was not followed. At the end of the day, a group surreptitiously, in connivance with some government officials, decided that the money was no longer Earned Allowance (a generic), but Earned Academic Allowances (a specific). The implication of this approach was that a whopping sum of N19 billion was allocated for the academic staff, while in a display of tokenism, a miserly sum of N4 billion was allocated to the non- teaching staff". 

This was done from the back door and without following due process. The Registrars and Bursars who are the only people authorized to determine who gets what were marginalized and bypassed while officials of the union started doing calculations of payments based on the claims of their members. The monies were then frontloaded from the ICT unit of the Federal Ministry of Education and the Accountant General’s office. These monies and the allocations were never audited before payment. All of a sudden and for the first time in the history of the Nigerian university system, payments were made on the lines of ASUU and non -teaching staff. The implications of what was done, is very dire and has far reaching consequences on the system. One is surprised that such travesty could be done under a government fighting corruption. I say it loud and clear, that on this issue, I see corruption written in capital and bold letters". 

"As non -teaching unions, we have been clamoring that government should beam its search light on the educational sector and this is one of such instances. Looking at the allocations, you will discover a lot of arbitrariness in the payments made to the universities. My university, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, was paid N80 million for non- teaching staff, while University of Lagos was paid N23 million, just a little over one quarter of what FUNAAB was paid. Are we saying that the population of non- teaching staff in FUNAAB is almost times four of that of UNILAG? Bringing it into relief, Federal University of Technology, Akure, was paid N378 million. 

Are we saying that FUTA is 16 times in population of non- teaching staff than UNILAG? Bayero University Kano, was allocated N49 million. Are we saying that BUK is only one sixth of the population of University of Jos, which was allocated N336 million? The point being made is that while the monies are Earned Allowances and not a bonus or bonanza, there should be a corresponding correlation between the allocations per university and their staff populations. The inherent contradictions in the payments forced us to demand for explanations on how the allocations were made. A letter was written on November 14, demanding the criteria used for the allocations and I daresay that up till today, no explanations have been given. There are more questions begging for answers. Meanwhile, there were pressures by the group which the allocations seemingly favored that the monies should be paid. 

Based on this, we were left with no choice than to resume our suspended strike on the issue of Earned Allowances and others".

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