ASUU plans emergency NEC meeting over withheld salaries

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The National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities is planning to meet soon to discuss the withheld eight-month salary arrears of their members, Saturday PUNCH has reliably learnt.

Although the date for the meeting has not been decided by the National Executive Council of the union, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, confirmed the development to our correspondent, noting that a due date would soon be picked and communicated to the public.

“We (NEC) had met before now and reached resolutions but will meet again to decide on the next step to take, and when we do so, we will let the public know.

“But what I can assure you is that we will meet very soon, and take a decision on this issue of withheld salaries. The FG must pay up these debts. It is our right.

“We have given the government some time to see if there will be any improvement, but they have done nothing. We are collating reports from our members and will take action,” he said.

While lamenting the situation, he said lecturers in Nigerian universities were going through hard times.

“Our members are passing through difficult times while they are doing the same work the FG said they did not do and were not going to be paid for.

“We are doing all these in the interest of the country but this will not be forever. We will certainly meet very soon and take a proper decision at that meeting,” he added.

He said there was no headway on the discussions between the lecturers and the Federal Government, noting that the legal battle between them would continue in February.

Also speaking on the withheld salaries of lecturers, the ASUU Chairman, University of Lagos branch, Dr Dele Ashiru, said he was shocked that the Federal Government had yet to shift ground on the matter.

He also noted that the morale of lecturers at his university had become “very low.”

He said, “As I speak to you now, nothing has changed. Unfortunately, the Federal Government is still adamant. The morale of our members has become so low.

“If the people with the responsibility to develop human capacity for Nigeria, Africa and the world are treated this way, it then shows the premium that those who are governing us place on education.

“It is also not to worry because they cannot give what they don’t have. If we have leaders who are anti-intellectual, they cannot have respect for intellectualism nor honour those who engage in that trade. What is certain is that ASUU will continue to struggle until all monies owed its members are paid.”

A Professor of Sociology at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Ifeanacho Ikechukwu, told our correspondent that lecturers were going through tough times owing to the non-payment of their salaries.

He noted that some lecturers had taken up odd jobs to be able to survive, stating that the FG had chosen to be adamant about their demands.

Lamenting the situation, Ikechukwu said, “It has been terrible with lecturers. Morale amongst lecturers is very low. We went through this unnecessarily prolonged strike due to ignorance on the part of the government. For eight months, we went without salaries.

“We have resumed based on the understanding that we were negotiating with a government that had ears and conscience. What is happening now turns out to be the opposite. Many of our lecturers have had to adopt several coping strategies. Our children have to go back to school. We have to buy fuel at the current cost.

“We are still battling to ensure that we return to normalcy by firing on all cylinders to teach morning, afternoon and night and administer examinations, grade them within two weeks, just because we want to regain lost ground. What is the basis with which any reasonable human being can say ‘no work, no pay’?

“I think the first problem is that the government does not appreciate the value of education. It is seeing education as part of the benevolence that the government extends to the people in order to gain popularity. The government now sees education as an unnecessary burden and cost to the economy of the nation.

“It is not interested in building the future. Some of the lecturers have withdrawn into their shells. Some of them are working but cannot justify why they should wake up in the morning and go to class to teach, particularly those who see this profession as a calling.”

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