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Address stagnant salaries–ASUU to FG

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By Abraham Adekunle

Owerri Chapter says members have earned the same wage since 2009.

In a reminder of the dire economic conditions facing Nigerian university staff, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Owerri Zone, has issued a fervent plea to President Tinubu, urging swift action to address the longstanding issue of stagnant salaries. The Union highlighted that its members have been grappling with unchanged salary structures since 2009, exacerbating financial strains amid the country’s economic challenges. Prof. Dennis Aribodor, the Owerri Zonal Coordinator, delivered the Union’s message during a press conference at the Unizik-ASUU complex in Awka, emphasizing the critical need for immediate intervention to alleviate the plight of university educators.

The communiqué, signed by Aribodor, underscored the imperative for President Tinubu to safeguard the integrity of the university system from undue commercialization, which could compromise educational standards and national development. Central to ASUU’s concerns is the protracted renegotiation of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN)-ASUU Agreement of 2009, which has languished for seven years. The Union lamented the government’s inertia in concluding the renegotiation, pointing out the adverse impact on academic staff who have endured stagnant salaries for a staggering 15 years.

Tinubu’s admin urged to address salary stagnation, withheld dues.

ASUU pressed for urgent action from the Tinubu administration to finalize the renegotiation process, advocating for an upward review of salaries commensurate with current economic realities. The Union’s assertion regarding the erosion of academic salaries’ purchasing power over the years underscores the pressing need for immediate redress. With the value of the naira significantly depreciating against the dollar since 2009, ASUU emphasized that rectifying the salary stagnation is paramount to restoring the dignity of academia and fostering industrial harmony within universities.

Moreover, ASUU castigated the former Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, for withholding salaries as a punitive measure, citing violations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions. The Union condemned the politicization of salary disputes, highlighting the deleterious effects on academic staff and their families. While acknowledging the Tinubu administration’s partial resolution of withheld salaries, ASUU urged for the expeditious settlement of remaining dues to alleviate financial hardships and ensure sustained industrial peace. ASUU also shed light on the Federal Government’s wavering commitment to clearing the backlog of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), a critical component of the December 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA) between FGN and ASUU.

Union demands council reinstatement, opposes IPPIS, NUC regulations.

Also, the Union deplored the government’s failure to honour its obligations, stressing the adverse ramifications for academic staff nationwide. The illegal dissolution of governing councils in federal and state universities emerged as another pressing concern raised by ASUU. The Union condemned this egregious violation of university autonomy, underscoring its detrimental impact on institutional governance and administration. ASUU called for the immediate reinstatement of dissolved governing councils and urged governments at both federal and state levels to uphold the rule of law in university affairs.

Addressing the contentious issue of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), ASUU reiterated its staunch opposition to the centralized payment platform, which it deemed antithetical to university autonomy. Despite the announcement of tertiary institutions’ exit from IPPIS, the Union expressed apprehension over the transition process and called for greater transparency to ensure the smooth implementation of alternative payment mechanisms. ASUU also sounded the alarm over the National Universities Commission’s (NUC) encroachment on university senates’ authority, particularly regarding academic program regulation. The Union vehemently opposed the NUC’s imposition of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS), asserting the primacy of university senates in academic decision-making.

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Furthermore, ASUU reiterated its longstanding advocacy for the review of the NUC Act to curb the proliferation of universities, which it deemed detrimental to educational quality and sustainability. The Union emphasized the urgent need for regulatory reforms to address the systemic challenges undermining Nigeria’s higher education sector. In all, ASUU’s impassioned appeal to President Tinubu underscores the urgency of addressing the longstanding grievances plaguing Nigerian university staff. With salaries stagnant for over a decade and institutional autonomy under threat, concerted action is imperative to safeguard the integrity of higher education and promote national development.

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