The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to drop his indifference to the nagging issue of the seven and half months salary of university lecturers being withheld after their strike.
The Chairman of ASUU, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (ASUU-MOUAU), Prof. Chike Ugwuene, made the appeal yesterday, during a special congress/protest rally organised to express their anger over, “the way government is treating us.”
He argued that it was wrong for government to implement the vexatious policy of no-work-no-pay to ASUU members, having suspended their strike in obedience to the order of industrial court.
The ASUU-MOUAU chairman pointed out that lecturers after such industrial action go back to where they stopped their work to teach and conduct examinations and release results thereby covering up the lost ground.
“By this, lecturers do their work in arrears and so any right thinking person should not apply no-work-no-pay to lecturers,” he said.
Ugwuene lamented that after the Union’s demonstration of trust and patriotism by calling off its strike, ASUU was now being rewarded with pro rata payment of salary, adding that the academics would never accept such treatment.
He blamed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, “who has vowed that the federal government was going to implement no work no pay policy on lecturers.”
Most of the inscriptions on the placards carried by the protesting ASUU members were directed at castigating the Labour Minister for his perceived role in intimidating the university teachers.
Some read: ‘Ngige is a foe, not a friend’; ‘Nigeria, beware of Ngige, an enemy of education’; ‘Take it or leave it is against the privilege of collective bargaining’;’ ASUU mean well for Nigeria’, among others.
“We are here to cry out so that the public can hear what government is doing to us. Government is pushing us to the wall and we can break that wall,” he warned.
The President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, who was on hand to encourage his colleagues, said contrary to insinuations, the strike was not called off due to the intervention of the leadership of the House of Representatives, but in obedience to court order.
He said the rot in the education sector was a symptom of the manner those at the helms of affairs were running the Nigerian nation aground leading to the collapse of every sector.