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Sunday, July 14, 2024
HomeNewsWithheld Salaries: Varsity Workers Protest, Say We’re Hungry

Withheld Salaries: Varsity Workers Protest, Say We’re Hungry

The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) of the University of Abuja and their counterparts in other states of the federation have protested the federal government’s failure to pay their four-month withheld salaries.

The workers, who trooped out in their campuses yesterday to express their grievances over the matter, told the government that they were hungry.

The protest marked the beginning of a series of union actions that could lead to a complete shutdown of universities across Nigeria next week.

During the hours-long protest around the University of Abuja, SSANU chairman Comrade Nurudeen Yusuf and Comrade Sadiya Ibrahim Hassan, chairperson of NASU, expressed the unions’ frustration at the government’s broken promises and demanded the release of their withheld salaries.

They warned that they would no longer accept empty promises from the government over the non-payment of their hard-earned salaries, insisting that promises alone cannot feed their families or pay their children’s school fees.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC), representing NASU and SSANU, has been grappling with longstanding issues related to welfare and university education.

During yesterday’s protests, the unions highlighted the non-payment of salaries for four consecutive months, which they said has been exacerbated by the government’s selective implementation of directives, favouring academic staff over non-teaching personnel.

It should be recalled that in March 2022, the unions embarked on a strike due to the government’s failure to honour multiple agreements. However, in 2023, President Bola Tinubu directed the payment of withheld salaries and excluded universities from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

Nine months after the presidential directive, the unions accused the federal government of Orwellian implementation, where “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

They called on the minister of education to address these issues promptly and cease playing the ostrich. Additionally, they urge the minister of labour and employment to prevent further disruptions to the academic calendar.

SSANU and NASU also implored members of the National Assembly, royal leaders, and opinion influencers to intervene.

They said, “This repeated reneging on agreements is eroding the trust of our members in government and its officials, and one wonders if they are truly committed to a qualitative education for the children of the masses.

Our hope was renewed when the present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the campaigns assured all Nigerians that there will be no more strikes in Nigerian universities”.

“Today’s protest signals the beginning of a series of union actions which will culminate in the shut all universities in Nigeria. This action is preventable and avoidable; we therefore call on the minister of education to sit up and stop playing the ostrich.

We equally call on the minister of labour and employment to use her good office to prevent industrial disharmony and disaffection in our universities, causing unnecessary disruption in our academic calendar and activities.

“We can no longer accept empty promises. They don’t put food on our tables nor pay our children’s school fees.”

Yesterday, workers at the University of Ilorin said that they could no longer afford the basic necessities of life due to poor wages.

The workers claimed that they can no longer afford food, transportation, and other basic needs of life.

The local NASU chairman, Mr Zubair Ibrahim, who led his colleagues in a peaceful protest on their demand for a living wage, said their agitation is over salary arrears owed members.

“We are hungry and we cannot die in silence. Members are finding it difficult to survive,” Ibrahim declared.

He lamented the failure of the federal government to address their demands even after their warning strikes some months back, adding that appeals for the payment of their withheld four-month salaries fell on deaf ears.

He explained that NASU and SSANU had earlier giving the federal government a two-week ultimatum to meet their demands or face industrial action.

Ibrahim demanded the immediate payment of the four months withheld salaries to members and the 25 per cent allowance.

The local chairman of SSANU, Mr Olushola Falowo said that the government is not sensitive to their plights.

The national financial secretary of SSANU, Alh Jimoh Akanbi stated that the minimum wage for Nigerian workers is constitutional and should be of priority to the government.

“ASUU has been paid their withheld salaries and we appeal that our own should be paid too, he said.

Also, at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi staged a protest and called on President Bola Tinubu to immediately sack the ministers of labour and education.

SSANU said that the two Ministers have failed to address the two unions’ plight.

The protesters lamented that the Tinubu administration has failed to address their demands such as wage awards, four months’ arrears withheld salaries and other allowances.

Speaking with journalists during the protest on Tuesday, the Joint Action  Chairman, Sulisma Jatau, said, “Tinubu’s government is a failure. We have given him enough time. He promised that he was coming in to fix the nation. He has been longing to govern this country and with what he is doing, it means he never had plans on how to govern this country.

“Hardship in the country is too much, suffering is too much. We are suffering, people are dying. They have money to buy private jets, they have money to build a house for the Vice President when people are dying of hunger.

“Our entitlements should be paid to us. That is all, we are tired of empty promises. You can see all of us, we are looking haggard, we are not happy and this time around, we are serious and we won’t take it lightly. He has failed, that’s all.”




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