The Nigerian Government has directed university lecturers under the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) to submit their details to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for the payment of their withheld salaries.
This was made known in a letter dated January 13, 2023, and signed by the Director of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System Department, Charles Wali. The letter was addressed to the CONUA President, Obafemi Awolowo University chapter.
In November 2022, CONUA wrote to the Nigerian government to demand the payment of its members’ withheld salaries as the government withheld the salaries of university lecturers following the eight months strike embarked upon by the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU embarked on industrial action on February 14, 2022, over the Nigerian government’s failure to meet the union’s demands including increased university funding and failure to fulfil agreements and memorandum of action it signed with the university lecturers.
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Following the government’s insistence on implementing the “No work, no pay” policy against the lecturers after the strike, CONUA which was inaugurated amid the strike that lasted for eight months, claimed that its members did not participate in the industrial action.
In response to the union’s claim, the Accountant General of the Federation directed members of the union to submit soft and hard copies of their details for the payment of their withheld salaries.
The letter read, “I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the above subject matter dated 2nd November 2022 in respect of payment of your withheld backlog of salaries and to request you to provide softcopy of membership of CONUA across universities to enable payment as requested.
“Meanwhile, you may wish to forward the following details to facilitate seamless deduction and remittance of check-off dues: evidence of registration; official account details of the union; membership list of the union, signed by each member; percentage of deduction (check-off dues)/amount to be deducted member; mode of remittance between the headquarters and local chapters.
“Please note that details of members which must always be hard and soft copies, should also include individual IPPIS numbers for ease of identification.
“While we appreciate your understanding, kindly accept the assurances of the warm regard of the Accountant General of the Federation.”
Promptly, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, have expressed disappointment with the action of the FG and described it as a sure recipe for disaster and chaos in the public university system.
Reacting to the development, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, wondered why the government is interested in causing chaos and stoking trouble.
According to him, the FG was only trying to put something on nothing.
“The question is, was CONUA in existence according to law in March up till September 2022? The union did not exist then, and how can the government now say it is recognising it retrospectively. Which check off dues are they going to pay them, for a period they were yet to be in existence and recognised by law?
Also, which work did they do from March till the universities were reopened last October? We are watching and studying the situation and we will react appropriately, ” he said.
The National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, noted with dismay that the government has introduced divide and rule tactic into the university system.
He said that SSANU followed all the due process as prescribed by Labour laws before embarking on the strike, adding that his union was forced as a result of the failure of government to go on strike.