Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Four workers’ unions at the Bayelsa-state owned Niger Delta University on Saturday condemned the failure of the state government to pay their salaries for about three months.
Specifically, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU); the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions and the National Association of Technologists in the university, blamed the state government for being ‘insensitive’ to their plight.
In a communiqué jointly signed by the branch Chairman, ASUU, Dr. Stanley Ogoun; Chairman, SSANU, Wilcox Fakidouma; Chairman, NAAT, Ekipre Dienagha; and Chairman, NASU, Kenneth Akpofagha, the unions described the government’s inaction as inhuman.
Lamenting the conditions of the affected workers, leaders of the unions noted that none of their members have been able to meet their obligations to their various families in the last few months
“It is inhuman to expect our members to exercise further patience when three months into the new year, salaries have not been paid. The development has resulted in families of our members going hungry, our children being driven out of school in the last term, the sick uncared for and eviction by landlords due to expiration of house rents.
“Also, there is increased rate of hypertension and related diseases arising from members’ inability to provide food on the table and worsened by no means of credit facilities’’, the unions said.
While declaring their support for the state government’s staff verification as a means of exterminating payroll fraud in the system, the groups, however said the action was ill-timed.
They contended that the timing was a calculated attempt to further worsen the already critical state of the people, particularly against the backdrop that those who spent the last four years to do the last verification exercise did not achieve any meaningful result.
The workers called on the government to use the last exercise earlier submitted, to pay them while the current verification exercise was ongoing.
“Our Visitor (His Excellency, Governor Seriake Dickson), should be bothered by the cries of children whose working parents are no longer able to provide food and medical care for them or by the fact that people can no longer transport themselves to their places of work arising from the scarcity of petrol.
“By extending the period of no salaries beyond the third month, our Visitor to the university is vicariously liable for systematically compelling genuine workers to indulge in criminality to keep their families alive”, the unions said.
They added that, “the misguided notion of university autonomy as held by only the Bayelsa State Government in the entire country should not be used as a guise for abdicating her responsibility to the university.”
The unions however promised to stay further action until after the burial of the founding father and first visitor to the NDU, late Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, later this week.