Non-aca- demic staff in the nation’s universities yesterday asked the Federal Government to sack Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Chris Ngige, for supporting the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, who they alleged of scheming to cheat them in the disbursement of the N40 billion released by the Federal Government as Earned Allowances.
These were part of the demands of the non-academic staff, operating under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, and Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, as they embarked on a 3-day warning protest at campuses nationwide.
From Abuja, Ilorin, Lagos, Ibadan, Calabar to Benin, the protesting non-academic staff noted that without their demands being met, the hope of reopening universities in the country after months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and nine months ASUU strike would not materialise.
Workers driven out of Senate Building in UNILAG
At the University of Lagos, UNILAG, the workers, who held a joint congress under their jointly-formed Joint Action Committee, JAC, in front of the Senate Building, were addressed by their chairmen, Comrade Olusola Sowunmi of SSANU and Comrade Kehinde Ajibade of NASU.
The leaders said the protest involved workers on grade level 1-14, insisting that any worker in that category found working in his/her office should be driven out.
They subsequently went into the Senate Building, which houses the office of the Vice Chancellor and chased out the workers.
However, the VC, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, was not in the office at the time the protesters stormed the Senate building. The workers then marched to the main gate of the institution which they blocked with their vehicles.
According to Sowunmi and Ajibade, the Federal Government deceived them into enrolling in the IPPIS. “No worker can say this is how much he or she earns a month. The inconsistencies are too many. Funny enough, the IPPIS has been turned to a warehouse of our legitimate funds, as deductions are not remitted. When did it become a Central Bank?
On his part, Sowunmi said it was unfortunate that some people in government felt it would be better to pamper one union out of the four staff unions in the university system.
“How can we have four unions in the university system and the government releases N40 billion for allowances and one union is allowed to take 75 percent of the money? We won’t allow this to continue and with this our protest, we are putting an end to such an injustice,” he said.
Their grouse against the ministers is that they are fuelling the discrimination against them by the teaching staff.
Protest paralyses UNIABUJA
At the University of Abuja, UNIABUJA, treasurer of NASU in the university, Sadiat Hassan, said the unions would proceed on indefinite industrial action if government failed to address the issues that compelled them to go on protest. “We are protesting against the irregularities in IPPIS payment and demanding the renegotiation of our 2009 agreement which has been long overdue.
“This is against the agreement held in October (last year) that the money was for all the unions. So, we expect them to do justice to everybody because this is earned allowances,” she said.
At the University of Benin, UNIBEN, the Chairman of UNIBEN SSANU/Joint Association Committee, Comrade Bedrock Osewa, said: “They (government) want to strangulate us so that we will not perform our responsibilities to members. The protest is to sensitize the public and let government know that we can not be taken for a ride.
“You (government) cannot sign and will not obey agreements. Besides, the government has also failed to reconstitute panel for renegotiation of pending agreements.”
Protest is successful, SSANU
Speaking on the protest, President of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Haruna Ibrahim, said: “The three day protest organized by the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities is majorly to drive home a point and to attract the attention of government and the general public to the fact that there is a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between us and the government.
“We also have our children in such universities so for us we are hoping and we are hopeful that government will do the needful before the end of the three days 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.”
“If government remains adamant and the issues are not addressed, JAC will take action on Thursday