The Federal Government says it will continue to negotiate with ASUU in spite of Wednesday’s court ruling restraining the union from continuing with its seventh month strike.
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja ordered the striking lecturers to return to the classroom following a suit filed by the Federal Government.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, made Federal Government’s position known when he hosted visiting members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics.
“The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations,’’ he said.
ASUU began its strike to demand that the Federal Government revisits some agreements signed between them in 2009 and also to improve on varsity funding and payment of earned allowances.
The lecturers also want the Federal Government to shelve its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in paying lecturers’ salaries.
The Federal Government uses the IPPIS platform to pay its employees.
They demanded that rather than its IPPIS, government should adopt the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, the payment platform designed by the universities themselves to pay lecturers.
The minister told his visitors that the Industrial Court’s ruling was in the best interest of Nigeria and its people.
According to him, the ruling is a win-win for government, for students, for lecturers and for all Nigerians.
“It is a no victor, no vanquished.
“You doctors in academics are for now members of ASUU, but you are here; even though you have dissociated yourselves and you are working.
“We want to thank you for working and teaching your students,’’ the minister said.
He noted that pro-chancellors of universities had met with President Muhammadu Buhari and made some demands that included topping up government’s offer and seeing whether there could be some bailout.
Ngige added that the president had assured that he would consult with stakeholders on the request.
The minister also commended the House of Representatives for intervening in the ASUU imbroglio.
Ngige said that he was happy that the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila also assured that principal officers of the House would meet with President Buhari over the strike.
He explained that whatever money that would be approved to meet some of the demands would go into the 2023 budget.
“Since the House has showed interest now, it is good and wonderful.
When they bring that proposal, the Executive will not have any problem.
“ASUU should also know that this is a step in the right direction.
All these things have been promised them by the Minister of Education at their last meeting.
“For me, they should do the needful and go back to the classroom,’’ the minister said.
Ngige said government would soon direct vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the order of court.
Retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme across the South-West zone have called for the payment of their pensions and other entitlements immediately after they disengaged from the public service.
In separate interviews on Sunday with the News Agency of Nigeria in the zone, the retirees and other stakeholders said such payments would help in mitigating their hardship and also keep them active for more years before death.
NAN recalls that the Pension Reform Act, 2004 established the National Pension Commission (PenCom) as a body to regulate, supervise and ensure effective administration of pension matters in Nigeria.
Its functions include: regulation and supervision of the scheme established under the Act. The main objectives and features of the Pension Reform Act, 2004 are: “To ensure that every person who worked in either the Public Service of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory or Private Sector receives his retirement benefits as and when due.
“To assist individuals by ensuring that they save to cater for their livelihood.
” Commenting, Mr Onah Owoka, the Principal Legal Officer (PLO), National Judicial Council (NJC), said that retirees would definitely prefer to have their lump sum to be paid immediately after leaving the service.
Owoka said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that retirees will definitely prefer a total and final lump sum payment of their pension entitlement as against the monthly payments presently in vogue in both Defined Pension Scheme (DPS) and Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
” According to him, before that is contemplated and enforced, it is necessary that retirement workshop being organised for retirees should be deliberately restructured to take longer period and intensive training.
He said that retirees should be taught relevant productive and creative vocational trainings and when concluded, the money released should be used to buy the needed tools for the trade.
Owoka said the PFA should be mandated to respectfully guide the employees for a certain period before handing over of the project to the retirees.
“There are instances where the employer fails to remit the monthly contributions of both the employer and the employee and when complaints are lodged, the PFA complains of non-remittance by the government either due to inadequate budgetary provisions or late release of funds.
“This equally affects the monthly payments, but if this money is invested by the retiree himself, he will be in charge of his investment.
“Another very important consideration is the compulsion by the government that an individual funds should be managed by another on his behalf consequently, presenting him as unfit to manage his funds.
“This is done regardless of his objection to the unilateral decision, this is socialism in a Capitalist economy,” he said.
Another lawyer, Mr Femi Edema, described the Pension Reform Act, 2004 as “a beautiful piece of legislation”.
Edema said: “If our government could implement the relevant provisions of the Act, with sincerity of purpose, our senior citizens who had laboured for our nation would be better for it.
“However, the level of compliance leaves much to be desired.
“No civilised nation can afford to let its retirees suffer.
We have seen instances where pensioners died before getting their money.
Some waited hopelessly and never get paid.
They should be paid immediately,” he said.
Edema advised the government and leaders at all levels not to play politics with the issues bothering on pension.
“They must go beyond lip service and walk the talk.
“Government at all levels must give priority to pensioners the same way politicians pay themselves life pension after serving their terms in office,” he said.
In Osogbo, Mr Peter Adejuwon, a retiree from the Federal Ministry of Information, told NAN in Osogbo that there had been several calls by retirees on the need for prompt payment of their pension immediately after retirement.
Adejuwon explained that the level of compliance to the Pension Reform Act, 2004, as amended, had not yielded the expected results.
According to him, pensions and gratuities are being delayed for years before payment and such had also led to the death of many retirees.
“When you retired from active service, they delay you for a year or two and some for years before they pay them their entitlements.
“Many among us have died, while some of us need this money for drugs to keep us alive,” he said.
Also, Mrs Mojirade Opadokun, a retiree from Osun Civil Service, said that the state government needed to do more in the prompt payment of pensions and gratuity of retirees.
Opadokun said the idea of paying off retirees immediately after leaving active services would be a great relieve to them.
“We have been clamouring for this every time.
We have embarked on protest over non-payment of our pension arrears and gratuity with no positive results,” she said.
Opadokun, therefore, urged both the Federal and State Governments to always ensure that once civil servants quit active service, they should be settled immediately.
However, Mr Rotimi Omotoye, the Pension Desk Officer, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife, said that the Federal Government’s compliances with Pension Reform Act, 2004, as amended, was 100 per cent perfect.
Omotoye said there had been improvement from the old pension scheme and the contributory pension scheme.
He explained that while the old pension scheme was “pay as you go” and not funded, the new pension scheme is contributory and fully funded.
Omotoye said that government was making concerted efforts to ensure that retirees get their pension as and when due.
He called on retirees to make use of the seminars and training usually organised by government before leaving active service.
In Ilorin, Mrs Grace Idoka, a financial expert, complained to NAN that government had not complied with the Pension Reform Act. Idoka said that retiring civil servants still have to wait for months before getting their money.
“I have a friend who had to ‘tip’ to get her money.
Imagine having to give out tips to collect her hard earned money.
“We are not talking about loans or grants here.
We are talking of pensions.
“As a pensioner myself, I cannot, but say that governments at all levels should be fair in dealing with us.
“I am not being owed, as a federal pensioner, but I feel for my other colleagues, especially those in the state and local governments.
It is not right to suffer with grey hair.
“There should be respect for this group of people, even, the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) should deal with pensioners with respect, consider their age and pay them on time,” she said.
Also, Alhaji Saidu Oladimeji, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Kwara chapter, appealed to the government at all levels to comply with the Pension Reform Act, 2004 as amended by the Federal Government.
Oladimeji explained that “Kwara Government is to be commended as it complies with some aspects of the reform Act. “The government conformed in some aspects, in others, it doesn’t even touch it.
“So, we are just managing ourselves with the Kwara Government.
It sees us as beggars, forgetting that we are the state’s founding fathers.
“We are the ones who prepared the ground for them to become what they are today,” he said.
However, the Kwara NUP Chairman observed that compliance to the Pension Reform Act varies from states to states across the federation.
He explained further that pensioners needed to get their money immediately after retirement, saying that such feats are possible with the help of God and the political will from the government.
Oladimeji reminded those at the helm of affairs that they equally have a stake in the issues of complying with the 2004 Reform Act. He said the union had been pushing for an increase in the minimum pension for retirees for the past three years, adding that they were still on it without any development.
“It only got to the Senate once and most of these committee members are retired officers like us, yet because they have other sources of living, they don’t take it as a duty to do the needful,” he said.
Oladimeji appealed to Nigerians still active in service to support them in their quests for implementation of the 2004 Reform Act, saying “whoever refuses and works against the union will soon face what we are facing”.
In his contributions, Mr Mathias Fafeyiwa, who retired as a Headmaster in 2019, told NAN in Okitipupa, Ondo State, that he was still collecting his pension monthly from the state government.
Fafeyiwa said he was not aware of any pension reform that makes it mandatory to receive pension shortly after disengagement from the service.
He added that only his gratuity was worked on and paid in a lump shortly after disengagement from the service.
Fafeyiwa said: “I don’t think the Ondo State Government is aware of any pension reform or perhaps it is just acting against the law.
“Some of my colleagues and I, who retired in 2019 did not collect our pension immediately after disengagement from service, except our gratuities.
“The government releases the pension to us monthly according to the percentage it feel it’s okay for it.
“If such pension reform is implemented, I believe pensioners will not be dying in the process of collecting their entitlement.
“The Federal Government needs to act fast on enforcing implementation of the pension reform to ensure that pensioners get what belongs to them as and when due and thereby save many lives,” Fafeyiwa said.
Contributing, some pensioners and civil servants in Ogun decried the poor level of compliance by the state government with the 2004 Pension Reform, Act as amended.
In their responses, they scored the state government very low.
One of them, Mr Bola Lawal, the Secretary, Ogun chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), claimed that Ogun Government has not complied with the Pension Reform Act. Lawal told NAN that every state was supposed to key into the law, saying, “reverse is the case with the Ogun Government”.
According to him, at the initial stage, the state complied, but somewhere along the line around 2006, it made another law to prolong implementation of the Pension Reform Act, 2004 till 2025,” he said.
“The state is currently owing 200 months unremitted pension deductions from the workers’ salaries.
“A major benefit of that 2004 Act is that pensioners will not be suffering as it is the case now, because it is sure that the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) will manage the fund well.
“By the time they are going on retirement, they will have their benefits and have their pension paid regularly,” he said.
The secretary recalled that the Act stipulated that pension must be reviewed anytime workers’ salaries were increased.
He expressed concern that the state government had reviewed salaries about six times since the Act became operational, without recourse to pensioners, adding that some pensioners still earn as low as N5,000. Lawal, who commended the Federal Government for strictly adhering to the provisions of the Act, appealed to the state government to do the needful as soon as possible.
Also, Mr Sikiru Ayilara, the State Chairman, Local Government Pensioners Association of Nigeria (LOGPAN), said that the state government had not performed well in complying with the 2004 Pension Reform Act. Ayilara explained that there was initial compliance with the Reform Act during the Gbenga Daniel-led administration.
“The Ibikunle Amosun-led administration, which came after, threw everything into the dustbin and postponed the implementation till 2025,” he said.
Ayilara explained that the present government led by Gov. Dapo Abiodun, has not done anything regarding the reform.
He said that the money being deducted from the service now was not remitted to the pension administrators, saying, “when the workers retired, there will be nothing to rest upon”.
According to him, they are deducting money; they do not remit it to the pension administrators.
“I do not even restrict myself to the Pension Act of 2004; the provisions of the Constitution are being breached when it gets to pensioners.
“I don’t want to talk about this reform again because the government is not ready to do what is right,” he said.
In his reactions, Mr Akeem Lasisi, the State Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), described the level of compliance by the state government as zero.
Lasisi said that the state government was owing “several months” of deductions from workers’ salaries, while it has also failed to contribute its portion.
He added that the law stipulated that the remittance must be effected seven days after deductions from workers’ salary.
“The implementation was faulty from inception.
“Gov. Daniel’s administration owed 25 months before he left.
Gov. Ibikunle Amosun only paid six months throughout his tenure, while Gov. Dapo Abiodun has not paid a dime during his administration since the implementation has been faulty right from inception,” he said.
Lasisi appealed to the state government, as a matter of urgency, to pay the backlog of the deductions and commence remittance of pension deductions as and when due.
“We all believe the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme is the best,” he said.
However, Mr Seun Babalola, the Executive Director, Nigerian Life and Provident Consultant (NLPC), said there had been an appreciable level of compliance with the Act by the private sector and Federal Government establishments.
Babalola said that the adoption of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Systems (IPPIS) by the Federal Government had enhanced timely deduction and remittance of the pension fund of federal civil servants to the appropriate quarters.
He added that Lagos, Jigawa, Delta, Kaduna and some other state governments had also continued to comply very well with the pension reform.
The pension expert explained that the Act, among others, stipulated that any establishment which had three or more employees must comply with the pension law.
Babalola said that some private sector establishments were still not complying with the Act because of “unfavourable business environment”.
He said that the high level of compliance had made fund available to the government, because many of the pension custodians and administrators had continued to invest in the government Treasury Bills, which had proven to be safe investment, in spite of the low returns.
The pension expert also noted that the development had also helped to provide job opportunities for many Nigerians.
Babalola blamed the delay in payment of pension benefits at retirement on faulty documentation.
He said that many employees failed to notify PFAs about their retirement early enough to help the firm’s process the benefits.
“Employees should have no problems getting their pension benefits at retirement, because the law stipulated that it should be paid within five days upon approval by the National Pension Commission (NPC).
“One of the causes of delay, however, is that many employees failed to provide some of the necessary documents such as letter of employment, letter of resignation or retirement and the National Identification Number (NIN) to process their benefits.
“In some cases, delayed payment has been as a result of non-remittance of deducted pension funds by the employer.
“By arrangement, an employee is supposed to have notified the PFA six months before retirement for an easy process of the benefit, but many will come only at the last day.
“We, at the NLPC, have a culture of payment of pensions within 48 hours of approval by the NPC,” he said.
In Ekiti, stakeholders decried the untold hardship being experienced by most pensioners in getting their benefits after retirements.
They were of the opinion that the pensioners, having served meritoriously for 35 years or attained the mandatory 60 years, should get their terminal benefits immediately after retirement.
A Federal pensioner, Mr Samuel Sangotade, said most pensioners have turned into beggars as a result of non-payment of their benefits after retirement.
Sangotade, who claimed to have retired from a federal agency in 2019, said it took two years before his entitlement was paid, “but, before then, I resorted to selling off my properties as means of survival”.
“I went through a lot of difficulties during that period; I had to dispose some of my properties when things got out of hands,” he said.
Sangotade said the issue of late payment of benefits still remained a nightmare which requires urgent stakeholders’ attention.
Also, Mr Bode Afolayan, another retiree, said that the pension regulatory agencies saddled with pension responsibility, need to work extra mile in tackling the menace of corruption in the nation’s pension regime.
“There are lots of sharp and fraudulent practices being perpetrated in the pension system, most of which are reported dailies.
“For the system to work effectively, there is need to rid it of bad eggs so that the aims and objectives of the pension reform would be met to better the lots of pensioners,” he said.
Afolayan noted that funds meant and allocated for pension payments should be used judiciously so as to ensure adequate, timely and prompt clearance of entitlements.
In her views, Mrs Bisi Adeyemi, the Coordinator, Toward a Sustainable Livelihood for Pensioners, an NGO, said the bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with pension payment remained a stumbling block.
“Most pensioners go through rigorous tasks as regards documentations and verifications which ought to have been done years back, preparatory to retirement.
“There are situations whereby many pensioners lost their lives in the name of going through the stress associated with documentations and verifications,” Adeyemi said.
She urged government at all levels to emulate what was obtainable in civilised countries, such as U.
S and Canada, in fashioning out a workable and sustainable retirement regime for pensioners.
A retired Principal, Mr Mathew Ogunlade, said the National Assembly should, as a matter urgent national importance, looked into the difficulties associated with the payment of pensions with the aim of addressing it squarely.
Ogunlade said: “There is need for them to beam their searchlights on the operations of Pension Fund Administrators and the relevant bodies involved in pension to know their weaknesses and challenges and the way forward.
” Also, a 70-year-old retired teacher, Mr David Ajayi, called on the Federal Government to ensure strict compliance to the 2004 Pension Reforms.
Ajayi suggested that pensioners should get at least 70 per cent of their accrued money at the point of disengagement.
He decried a situation whereby pensioners would die sometimes before the large chunks of their pension was paid, describing it as disheartening.
NAN) Senate has constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe over non-performance, despite budget allocations and releases of fund since 2008. The resolution to investigate the organisation followed a motion adopted by members of the Senate Committee on Finance on.
Day 3 of the interactive session with MDAs on 2022 to 2023 MTEF and FSP in Abuja on Thursday.
The motion was moved by Sen.Opeyemi Bamidele.
The ad-hoc committee has Sani Musa as Chairman, while the members are Opeyemi Bamidele, James Manager, Michael Nnachi and Sadik Suleiman.
The committee is to investigate the budget of the organisation, which comprises capital, recurrent and overheads in from 2008 to date and is expected to turn in its report in two weeks.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee Sen.Solomon Adeola said the agency was a major source of wastage of government’s fund, following its moribund nature since 2008. He said the agency had been inactive for 14 years despite allocations of funds for capital, recurrent and overheads.
Adeola said N1.8billion was released as capital fund,while N2.5 billion had been cumulatively released to the organisation as of July. Adeola said it was worrisome that funds for capital, recurrent and overhead had been released to the agency since 2004 with no performance to show.
He said there was no reason for government to continue to fund an agency that “has been out of operation since 2008”.
“The organisation is deserted,and who are you paying salary, what project have you executed ,” Adeola wondered rhetorically.
Sen.Opeyemi Bamidela said “this is an entirely fearful situation and we are funding our budget by borrowing.
“And we have an agency that is meant to be developing our steel sector and they have not done anything since 2008,” Opeyemi said.
Jubril Isah accused the management of the agency of abandoning its mandate to some perceived social responsibility outside the mandate.
He urged the management to desist from further construction of projects not covered on its mandate.
Responding, the Sole Adminstrator of NIOMCO Mr Augustus Nkechika said the agency was mandated to stop operation since 2008, following the planned concession of the organisation, “which has resulted into litigation”.
He, however, revealed that efforts was being made to resolve the matter by the Federal Government.
He also revealed that the organisation has 700 staff in its payroll, saying that IPPIS was responsible for payment of staff salaries.
The Federal Government says it will meet with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) for adjudication on Monday over prolong strike.
Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, said this on Sunday in Abuja in a letter addressed to the Registrar of NICN, dated Sept. 8. Ngige said this in a statement signed by Olajide Oshundun, Head, Press and Public Relations, in the ministry and made available to newsmen.
He said the referral instrument had become necessary following the failure of dialogue between the union and the Federal Ministry of Education.
He added that the matter is billed for mention by 9 a.
m on Sept. 12. ”The Federal Government has asked the NICN to inquire into the legality or otherwise of the ongoing prolonged strike by ASUU leadership and members that had continued even after apprehension.
“It asked the court to interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18 LFN 2004, especially as it applies to the cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour and Employment and conciliation is ongoing,” he said.
He also said that the NICN are to interpret the provisions of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8. LFN 2004, titled “Special Provision with Respect to payment of wages during strikes and lock-outs”.
Ngige said this ”specifically dealing with the rights of during the period of any strike or lock-out.
”Can ASUU or any other union that embarked on strike be asking to be paid salaries even with clear provisions of the law.
“Determine whether ASUU members are entitled to emoluments or ‘strike pay’ during their period of strike, which commenced on Feb. 14. ”Moreso, in view of our national law as provided in Section 43 of the TDA and the International Labour Principles on the right to strike as well as the decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association on the subject,” he said.
He added that NICN should determine whether ASUU had the right to embark on strike over disputes as is the case in this instance by compelling the Federal Government to employ its own University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) in the payment of the wages of its members as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
According to him, as this is universally used by the Federal Government in the nation for payment of wages of all her employees in the Federal Government Public Service of which university workers, including ASUU members, are part of.
”Or even where the government via NITDA subjected ASUU and their counterpart, Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll Systems (UPPPS) software to integrity test (vulnerability and stress test) and they failed,” he said.
Ngigi also said the federal government further asked the court to determine the extent of fulfillment of ASUU’s demands since the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) that the union signed with government.
The minister said their demands include the funding for revitalisation of public universities as per 2009 agreement, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) payments, state universities proliferation and constitution of visitation panels, and release of white paper on the report of the visitation panels.
He noted that others are the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team for renegotiation of 2009 agreement, which was renegotiated 20132014, due for renegotiation 20182019, and the migration of ASUU members from IPPIS to its own UTAS, which is currently on test at NITDA.
”Consequently, the Federal Government requested for an order of the Court for ASUU members to resume work in their various universities while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the NICN in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (I) (b) of the TDA Cap T8. LFN 2004,” he said.
As the nationwide strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) persists, private universities in Lagos have shared their experiences on students’ enrolment for the new academic session.
Recall that the union had, on Feb. 14, embarked on a one-month strike, making several demands on the Federal Government.
The union had gone on strike to protest the non-implementation of an agreement it signed with the Federal Government in 2009. It said the Federal Government had failed to release the revitalisation funds for public universities and refused to allow the use of the University Transparency Accountability System (UTAS) for their payment.
The striking lecturers want the UTAS for the payment of their salaries and allowances, rather than the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) used by the Federal Government in paying its workers.
They are also unhappy with the inability of government to produce the white paper report on the visitation panel to universities, among other issues.
ASUU rolled over the one-month strike several times until its National Executive Committee (NEC), on Aug. 29, resolved to turn it to a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike.
It claimed that despite dialogue with the Federal Government, most of the demands of the union still remained unattended to.
Dr Elvis Otobo, Deputy Director, Public Relations and Marketing, Caleb University Imota in Ikorodu, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the now indefinite strike was worrisome.
On how the strike had impacted enrolment in the private university, he told NAN that over the years, the institution had been recording considerable enrolment.
He said that this was in line with its mandate of teaching, research and community service.
“I will say that the whole issue about strike in the public universities is unfortunate.
“However, we have been on top of our game in terms of deliberate upgrade of infrastructure, moral and academic excellence.
“Coming to enrolment, I will say yes, there is an increase, but I really will not want to attribute that solely the the prolonged ASUU strike.
“We have built capacity, developed infrastructure and have been holding our own not just in Nigeria, but globally.
“Right now, I may not be able to give you the statistics of enrolment, but I think it is quite commendable,” Otobo said.
Mr Samuel Ighalo, Strategy and Communications, Anchor University, Ayobo, Lagos, on his par, said they had over 100 prospective applicants already and were eagerly waiting for them to begin.
Ighalo said that admission for the new session just started last month and the applicants so far received were across all programmes, while admission was still ongoing.
“The programmes include law, nursing, architecture, medical lab science, public health and environmental management, and toxicology.
“About 160 applicants applied last session, while this year, 100 have applied so far, with admission still ongoing.
“Our new session will kick off this September ending, but generally, the strike is also helping us to get new applicants,” he said.
Efforts to get the enrolment pattern in other private universities in the state were unsuccessful.
NAN reports that fees in public universities are generally low, when compared to that of private ones.
Meanwhile, the state-owned Lagos State University(LASU), Ojo, on Monday matriculated 6,377 students for the 20212022 Academic Session.
Two other newly-created state-owned universities, Lagos State University of Science and Technology, and the State University of Education are also unaffected by the strike.
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, in Abuja, met with Vice Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors of federal universities toward ending the protracted ASUU strike, which is nearing seven months.
At the end of the meeting, the Federal Government again set up a 14-man committee to look into the grey areas of the ASUU demands.
Mr Ben Goong, the Spokesperson of the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu disclosed this at a press conference at the end of the meeting.
“After enormous two-hours deliberations, the meeting constituted a committee made up of four Pro-Chancellors, five Vice Chancellors and others, to be chaired by the minister of education to further look at the grey areas ASUU is demanding, particularly the areas where there has been no consensus.
“As I speak to you, that committee is meeting and they will proceed to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the outcome of the deliberations of that committee.
“Two basic areas that the committee will be looking at is the ‘no work no pay’ issue and the issue of remuneration of university lecturers,” he said.
On the demand of ASUU to use the UTAS, Goong explained that it was not part of the areas under consideration as government had already set up a committee to fine-tune the two payment platforms including the existing IPPIS.
He said that in few days’ time, the committee would conclude and thereafter meet with President Muhammad Buhari Meanwhile, students affected by the strike in public universities have also continued to lament the unending industrial action by the lecturers and deadlock in talks with government.
Olaseun Ajiboye,100 level Mass Communication, University of Lagos (UNILAG), said he barely started her first year in school when the disruption started.
He said it was not a good feeling, being at home without knowing when they would resume.
Ajiboye said that he waited for two years before getting the admission and ASUU and federal government decided to add more to the years of waiting.
“This isn’t the best position to be in at all, because, no classes or school activities, and I feel like I’m missing out on university life,” he said.
Olalekan Amusan, 400 level student of Mechanical Engineering, Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH),Ogbomoso, appealed to ASUU to reconsider the students’ delay in education advancements.
“My friends in private universities have left me behind ,we might even stay longer in schooI because we do not know when the strike will be over,” he said Adedoyin Ishola, 400 level student of Philosophy,Federal University of Technology Akure(FUTA) said the indefinite ASUU strike was depressing.
Ishola said that she was in her final year, about to defend her project, when the union announced the strike.
“ASUU turned my four years to seven years, when I’m not studying medicine; I am currently learning graphics designing.
“I pray God will touch both ASUU and Federal Government’s hearts,” she said.
The University of Ilorin (Unilorin) chapters of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) have said they suspended the industrial actions to give the Federal Government time to implement the agreements it reached with the university workers.
Mr Naheem Falowo, the Unilorin-SSANU Chairman, stated this on Monday while fielding questions from newsmen in Ilorin.
Faliwo explained that the decision to suspend the protracted industrial dispute was informed by the need to enable the federal government some time to implement the agreements comprehensively.
He noted that government accepted to put machinery in motion for the onward implementation of all the eight-point demands before it.
The SSANU chairman, who is also staff of the Bursary Department of Unilorin, explained that the government accepted to work towards a remarkable improvement in the welfare of staff of state-owned universities as demanded by the unions.
Also speaking, Mr Ibrahim Suberu, the NASU Chairman of Unilorin, said the federal government equally promised in the agreements voluntarily signed with the unions to implement the agreed percentage increment in the salaries of university staff without any exception as from Sept. 1, 2022. Suberu also disclosed that the government has approved the release of N50 billion for the payment of earned allowances.
He added that the unions were assured the money would be shared among federal government-owned universities for onward payment to all their staff members and without any form of discrimination in its disbursement between the academic staff and their non-teaching counterparts as witnessed in the past.
The NASU chairman pointed out that the sustained efforts of the unions also eventuated in the federal government’s realisation of the absurdities that have characterised the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS).
He added that one of the successes of the strike was that the government was now poised more than ever before to have a rethink on the IPPIS as it has empowered a committee chaired by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Issa Pantami.
According to him, this is to harmonise the payment platforms jointly proposed by SSANU and NASU and the one put forward by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU may have again extended its strike on Monday, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
The decision to again extend the strike for the fourth time was taken after the union’s National Executive Council met at its headquarters at the University of Abuja.
The union embarked on the strike on Feb. 14 demanding for a renegotiation of agreements reached between it and the government in 2009. It is also demanding that government should shelve the payment of members’ salaries using its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) through which it pays its employees.
ASUU is asking government to instead adopt the union’s payment platform option, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Goong, told newsmen that government had taken all possible steps to end the strike.
“Government has already inaugurated a committee to harmonise the IPPIS, UTAS, and UP3, a salary payment platform introduced by another union within the university system.
“This will ensure that the government will pay with only one payment platform that will harmonise all the technical peculiarities.
“If you bring some demands and almost 80 per cent have been attended to, there is no need to drag the strike anymore.
“It is unreasonable for the strike to be lingering seeing that government has worked toward meeting most of the demands,’’ Goong said.
On February 14, university lectures in the country under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) declared an indefinite nationwide strike after what its leadership described as the failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands.The declaration of an indefinite strike followed several weeks of warning strikes by the university teachers.Among the demands of the lecturers are the payment of Earned Academic Allowances, revitalisation of public universities through improved funding, a salary payment system different from the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) currently used for the payment of federal government workers.ASUU argues that its demand for a separate salary payment platform is to take care of university environment peculiarities such as the earned allowances, sabbaticals and contract staff which are not accommodated in IPPIS.The lecturers are also demanding the renegotiation of the 2009 FG-ASUU agreement.Broadly speaking, the agreement dealt with university autonomy and academic freedom, condition of service, funding of universities and other matters.Part of the agreements on earned academic allowances, provides for N15,000 per student for Lecturer I, N20,000 for Senior Lecturer and N25,000 for Readers and Professors for a maximum of 5 students per annum as postgraduate supervision allowance.On the funding of the universities to bridge the gap in infrastructure deficiencies in the public universities, the parties agreed that the Federal Government universities required N1.5 trillion between 2009 and 2011. On the other hand, the funding requirement for the state universities shall require, from the state government, N3.6 million per student over the same period to address its funding challenge.The agreement states in part that the “basis of the data collected, and their analysis through a rational and scientific procedure, the following funding requirements were projected for a quick and effective remedy of deficiencies in the programmes and facilities, and for a systematic upgrading of programmes and facilities that would rapidly advance Nigeria’s knowledge production for development”.ASUU has remained defiant that the agreement must be reviewed in line with its provision for a period review.A recent effort by government to woo the union to reconsider its position has hit the brick wall.Worried by the failure of both the federal ministries of Labour and Education to convince the lecturers, the government set up the Nimi Briggs Committee to intercede.But again, ASUU remained adamant.Reacting to a failed parley with the Committee, ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke declared that “They came with nothing.What they came with is from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission which does not represent anything,” While accusing the Federal Government of not giving the closure of universities to academic activities the attention it deserves, the ASUU president argued that “if we take education seriously it would not have lasted beyond February (when it started),” said Mr Osodeke, accusing the government of insensitivity.On its part, the Federal Government has hit back at ASUU, invoking the no-work-no play creed as a tool to force the striking teachers back to the classrooms.At a Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, on Thursday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu said the Federal Government will not pay salaries for the periods they will stay away from work to deter others who may contemplate similar strike in future.Taking a cue from his senior colleague, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Goodluck Opiah, posited: “I think we cannot afford to set the wrong precedents by paying people who stayed at home for six months.How do we compensate the students for all the days the lectures were at home if we compensate the lecturers by paying them?If we can answer this question, that will help.Government’s position, lawyers say, it backed by labour laws, particularly the Trade Union Act of 2005. Section 43(1) (a) of the Act reads: “Where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wage or other remunerations for the period of the strike, and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment, and all rights dependent on the continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly”.In a recent media interview, Mr Yusuf Buhari, a lawyer, said that even if there was no such law, in every employment, there must be an agreement that spells out the terms.“If you are going on strike, there must be a corresponding right to withhold your salaries.Such agreements are legal and binding in law,” he said.Similarly, Another lawyer, Hamid Jimoh in an interview published in a national daily argued that the provisions of section 43(1)(a) and (b) of the Trade Union Act do not criminalise strike but establish that the striking workers would not be entitled to pay.Mrs Toyin Oluwatobi, a psychologist said that in disputes of this nature, there is the need for both parties to minimise their egos and shift grounds.According to him, it is important that since it is impossible to meet all ASUU demands, the Federal Government should concede to the areas it can meet immediately in the interest of the society.Oluwatobi’s position is supported by Prof. Noah Yusuf of Industrial Sociology, Peace and Conflict Management Studies, University of Ilorin who in a study posited that “Like conflicts in other spheres of life, industrial conflict needs to be curtailed so as to prevent its escalation.This could only be achieved through effective conflict resolution mechanisms.More importantly, is the need for conflicting parties in industrial organizations to adhere strictly to the statutory provisions of conflict resolution”.The need for ASUU and FG to immediately resolve their differences through sincere negotiations and compromise is also backed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) stance on “Labour dispute prevention and resolution” in which the international organisation holds that “ grievances and conflicts are an inevitable part of the employment relationship.The objective of public policy is to manage conflict and promote sound labour relations”.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
Kaduna State University (KASU) said ASUU’s alleged description of the university staff as “quacks” was enough reason for its academic staff to pull out of the Union.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the National President of ASUU, Prof. Victor Osodeke, on Aug. 26, was reported to have referred to some state-owned varsities in Nigeria, including KASU as quacks.
A statement signed by KASU PRO, Adamu Bargo for the Acting Vice Chancellor in Kaduna, described the statement as “irresponsible, unguarded, misleading and derogatory”.
He said resuming academic activities, as their good conscience in KASU dictated, would never have been a reason for the institution to be insulted and stereotyped.
Bargo explained ‘quack’ as meaning a person who dishonestly claimed to have knowledge and skill in some field with little or no foundation.
He noted that for the benefit of hindsight, KASU as a new generation University and the second most-sought state-owned University and the fastest growing in Nigeria, was established 18 years ago with eminent scholars like Prof. Idris Abdulkadir and Prof. Abubakar Rasheed as the pioneer Council members.
“The made sure appointments of qualified lecturers were never compromised and the foundation, ethical determination to sustain same remained the basic principle of engaging academic and non-academic staff,” he said.
Bargo said that KASU was recognised by NUC as a standard University and had some of the best brains competing favourably with their counterparts around the globe.
“The world number four best polymer chemist is in KASU and our lecturers have attracted grants both locally and internationally and are highly rated.
“KASU graduates are rated among the best in the world and enjoying scholarships from different parts of the country and the globe.
“KASU has members in ASUU, and it is unfortunate if the union’s President is saying that they are quacks, while enjoying monthly check-off fees from their salaries.
“Does this not give good reason for every reasonable academic staff in the University to pull off from the Union for this labeling and stereotyping?
” Bargo expressed discontent, saying that the highest stage of irresponsibility was insulting fellow colleagues in the academia.
He noted that leadership in the academia way about mutual respect and mentoring while also living by good example.
He asked why the ASUU President failed mentioning Ambrose Alli University as quack where he came from, which had also pulled out from the strike long before KASU management decided to resume academic activities, in spite of the strike.
Bargo restated the claims ASUU went on strike to be rejecting IPPIS for UTAS, noting that KASU had nothing to do with how other employees were paid in a country where education is in the concurrent list.
He said release of funds to revitalise the infrastructure of the universities, which was also a reason for ASUU strike, was being determined by the economy and income of government and not by any strike.
“Also, release of the White Paper on Visitation Panels, has nothing to do with state universities and KASU should not stunt its progress in a protracted strike that is becoming unreasonably insensitive.
“When ASUU in KASU joined the strike in 2019 and government paid the 40 per cent salary for work done for the month, ASUU National did virtually nothing positive beyond ranting for the outstanding 60 per cent which had not been paid till date,” Bargo said.
He called on academic staff on strike in KASU to reason and be more concerned with their university and people than the attitude of their leaders that labeled them as quacks.
The Joint Action Committee,(JAC), of the Non Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions, NASU, and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, said it would suspend its ongoing strike on Wednesday.
The JAC’s spokesman, Mr Peters Adeyemi, said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the unions had embarked on strike since March 27, to press home their demands.
The workers’ demands include renegotiation of 2009 agreements with the Federal Government; inconsistencies occasioned by IPPIS, and replacement of the payment platform with the University Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (U3PS), and non-payment of earned allowances.
Others are payment of arrears of national minimum wage; release of whitepapers on visitation panel reports.
Others are reinstatement of staff schools’ teachers in line with the National Industrial Court judgement; poor funding and governance of state universities, among others.
Adeyemi said the the decision to to suspend the strike was taken following negotiation between the unions and the Federal Government team led by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
According to him, the suspension of the strike was for the initial two months to allow government implement the agreements reached.
“Part of the agreement is the decision of the government to set aside the sum of N50 billion for the payment of earned academic and earned allowances, cogent decision on the University Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (U3PS).
”Release of the whitepaper on university visitation panel and funding of the universities.
”On the poor funding of federal institutions, the Minister directed the National Universities Commission (NUC), to ensure that all the schools are up-to-date on what they are supposed to do.
”Otherwise sanctions will be visited on any institution that defaults.
“The Minister of Education also gave an assurance that no member of the unions that participated in the strike will be victimised,” he said.
Adeyemi also added that the minister said President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to devoting 15 per cent of the national budget to education.
He said, ”on the salary payment system, the minister said the alternative payment systems provided by ASUU, JAC of NASU and SSANU did very well.
”The minister also said the Federal Government was awaiting the report of the technical committee it set up before taking action on the matter.
”After prolonged negotiations and dialogue between the two unions and the Federal Government led Adamu and after the meeting, the two unions decided to suspend the strike for the initial period of two months.
“When we presented the offers that the government made to our members, they think that since the majority of the issues that are in contention have been substantially addressed by the government, the strike is hereby suspended effective on Aug. 24,” he said.
Similarly, SSANU in a statement signed by its President, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, said the meeting between the government and the unions was satisfactory.
Ibrahim said, ”today, having satisfied ourselves that government, this time around has committed itself to agreeing to respect the agreements that have been reached at the meetings.
“‘We believe that it is only honourable that we give the government the benefit of the doubt, while the needful was being done at the government’s end.
“To this end, we hereby inform you of a two months window given to the government to actualize the agreements that have been reached.
”The two months window is in the nature of a ceasefire and does not represent a closure on the industrial action.
“It is our sincere prayer, given the assurance made by the Minister of Education and our commitment to ensure an end to the ongoing impasse.
”That the two months opportunity will suffice for actions to be taken and the entire matter laid to rest.
“In view of the above, NASU and SSANU members are hereby directed to resume duties on Wednesday, Aug. 24, ‘he said.