On Tuesday, non-academic university unions and the Academic Staff Union of Universities differed on the N40bn received allowance from the Federal Government for employees of the institutions.
Although ASUU President Prof Biodun Ogunyemi justified the sum of promised lecturers from the N40bn in an interview, non-academic unions described the sharing formula of the Federal Government as illogical and a strategy of division.
The unions spoke as protests by non-academic staff over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System and the N40bn earned allowance rocked university towns across the country on Tuesday.
On 22 December, as part of the agreements reached with ASUU, the Federal Government had promised that N40bn of earned allowances would be granted to universities. The academic union suspended strike on 24 December, which earlier began on 23 March.
But the non-academic unions, which came out against the N30 billion offered by ASUU, said that the sharing formula was 75% (N30 billion) for the lecturers and 25% for the other unions.
Varsity workers protest: N75% promised ASUU will give room for corruption corruption – Union
In an interview on Tuesday, the Secretary General of the Non-Academic Workers Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, Mr Adeyemi Peters, said that the government’s failure to enforce the recommendations of the forensic audit report on the received allowance was the cause of the current crisis over the sharing formula.
The award of 75 percent of the fund to ASUU was not based on any logic, Peters said, noting that it would also generate corruption.
He explained that the audit report of the consultants engaged by the Federation’s Office of the Accountant-General recommended the amount to be earned by each university and the total amount to be paid to the unions.
Peters said, “Since 2013, the government has been releasing money, but these releases have been done in a manner that ASUU gets a bigger chunk of what is released. So, the non-teaching staff said the government should conduct a forensic audit of what had been paid so far.
“It was agreed to by all the unions; and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation hired some consultants that carried out the forensic audit of what had been released, what had been paid and what was remaining.
“And what we said was that if the forensic report is out, the distribution of the money (N40billion) should be based on the outcome of the forensic report, which probably would have shown how much each staff member has received, and the outstanding and you can use that to determine scientifically the quantum of what each of the union gets, but the government abandoned the report and decided to now say the N40b should be shared 75 per cent to ASUU and 25 per cent to other unions.”
“We said no, that would contradict the idea of the forensic audit. What they are proposing is not based on any logic and it doesn’t portray transparency. That is why we are insisting on the use of the audit report to determine what would be paid to every staff member and what each union would get.”
The NASU secretary said that his union had no problem with ASUU, but with the government that he accused of randomly awarding the share.
Peters stated, “What if what you owe them (ASUU) is below the percentage of you give to them? We don’t have a problem with ASUU, but we have a problem with the government. The approach of the government is biased in the distribution and it will not guarantee industrial peace.”
FG using divide and rule tactic –Union leader
In an interview with the President of the National Association of Academic Technologists, Mr Ibeji Nwokoma, accused the Federal Government of using divide and rule strategies to polarize the unions.
He argued that the decision to assign N30b to ASUU was unjust and unreasonable, noting that the government had not disclosed the formula for sharing.
Nwokoma noted, “We are not against the government giving any union what they think they should give, but the truth of the matter is that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Our earned allowance has been paid only up to 2011, whereas ASUU has been paid up to 2015 and if you give them N30b, you would now pay them to 2020. So, it is unfair, it is unjust and acceptable. Government is using divide and rule system.
Nwokoma said ASUU was probably being rewarded with the huge sum for going on strike, stressing that each of the unions could ground the university system. We have given the government 14-day ultimatum to review the sharing formula or we would shut down the universities.”
During a union protest at the University of Abuja on Tuesday, the President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Mohammed Ibrahim, said, “If the government remains firm and the issues are not resolved, the JAC (Joint Action Committee) will take action on Thursday.
“We also have our children in the universities. We hope that government will do the needful before the end of the three-day protest, but if that is not done, which we are not praying for, by Thursday we will be able to tell the whole world our next line of action.”
Also at UNIABUJA, the Treasurer of NASU, Sadiat Hassan, said in an interview with journalists, “We are protesting against the irregularities in the payment of IPPIS and pressing for the renegotiation of our 2009 agreement, which has been postponed for a long time.
“We are also protesting against the non-payment of our earned allowances and injustice that was done by the Federal Government in the distribution of the earned allowance because they gave a particular union 75 per cent and other unions 25 per cent.
“This is against the agreement reached in October (last year) that the money should be for all the unions. So, we expect them to do justice to everybody.”
Also, SSANU medmbers embarked on a peaceful demonstration at Lokoja Federal University, Kogi State, as early as 8 am on Tuesday.
The university president of SSANU/JAC, Uche Onyedi, threatened that if the government refused to meet their demands, the unions would launch a national strike.
“The Chairman of the JAC University, Mallam Muddasir Musa, addressing journalists during a protest at the Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State, said, “We tried to meet with them (the government) and solve the problems, but it never succeeded.
“ We have decided to protest and if it fails to work, we will have to embark on a strike because it is the only language government understands.”