- Says Govt Enforcing Starvation Policy
By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Port Harcourt Zone at the weekend vowed to down tools over unpaid and underpaid salaries.
The affected institutions which include the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State and Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, described the situation as unacceptable.
Others schools under the Port Harcourt zone are the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Rivers State; and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, also in Rivers State.
Giving the hint during a news conference at the NDU Faculty of Law Campus in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, the Zonal Coordinator, ASUU, Prof. Beke Sese, said the various congresses within the zone had already reviewed the situation.
He added that the situation was unsustainable, particularly against the backdrop of current economic hardship in Nigeria.
Sese said it was absurd that states that are withholding university staff salaries were busy establishing new ones at the same time.
“Our members are being compelled by the actions and inactions of government to contemplate the hard decision of withdrawing our services.
‘’We call on the students, parents, the media and well-meaning Nigerians to intervene and request the federal as well as state governments to live up to their responsibilities in the universities to avoid the imminent and avoidable closure of our campuses,’’ the ASUU zonal chair said.
He described the current practice of unpaid and underpaid salaries in the universities as a policy of starvation.
He said academics had become the major recipients of ‘’this inhuman and abhorrent policy of starvation.’’
Specifically, he pointed out that at the NDU, lecturers have not been paid salaries for a cumulative period of six months last year, wondering how the government expected lecturers to cope with caring for their families, paying their children’s school fees and meeting other commitments.
‘’That academic activities still go on at NDU in the face of this extreme deprivation, is indeed, an exemplary demonstration of patriotism, patience and unbridled commitment to service by members. But the elasticity definitely has a limit and should not be stretched any further.
‘’In both RSUST and IAUE, the government of the state has withheld union check-offs, which by interpretation is tantamount to paying fractional salaries.
‘’In the case of Uniport, fractional salaries were paid throughout last year and when there was hope of the refund of the withheld portion of salaries, the government resumed its policy of paying part salaries.
‘’The administration of the school claimed that there was shortfall in allocation to the institution between July 2016 and December 2016, but shortfall was part of the staff emolument all through the year (2016).’’
In his remarks, Chairman, NDU ASUU, Dr. Stanley Ogoun, said since the suspension of their strike last year, the union had been having continuous dialogue and interaction with the Bayelsa State Government.
He, however, said that if in the end, all their negotiations with the government failed, the branch might be compelled to embark on a sit-at-home.
Zonal officials of the union present at the meeting were Suobere Puyate (chairman, RSUST), Austen Sado (chairman, Uniport), Ogoun Stanley (chairman, NDU) and Omeodu Steve (assistant secretary, Uniport).
Others were Poazi Francis (treasurer, NDU), Kingdom T.(secretary, NDU), Agi U.K (chairman, IAUE) and Kalama John (secretary, FUO).