•Holds emergency NEC meeting to strategise
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos, James Sowole in Akure, Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti, Hammed Shittu in Ilorin, Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto, Francis Sardauna in Katsina and Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has commenced nationwide mobilisation of its members for a ‘no pay, no work’ action, should the federal government withhold the February salary of their members who refused to enroll on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
ASUU had rejected IPPIS and proposed University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
THISDAY gathered that the union is holding emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Enugu to finalise strategies on how to implement the looming industrial action.
The planned withdrawal of their services followed a threat by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, that university lecturers who refused to enroll on the IPPIS would not be paid February salary.
The minister, who spoke at the opening of the 2020 Management Retreat for Treasury Directors of Finance and Directors of Internal Audit in Kano on Thursday said that 55 per cent of the varsity teachers’ have so far been enrolled.
“Unfortunately, most reforms that you undertake, you come across resistance. We have had resistance from ASUU on the implementation of the IPPIS and I am happy to report that at least, up to 55 per cent of ASUU members are registered and the ones that are not registered are not getting their February salary,” the minister reportedly said.
However, ASUU leaders, who spoke to THISDAY from their NEC meeting at Enugu, acknowledged that their members have not been paid their salaries for February, pointing out that the development was not peculiar to ASUU members.
They disclosed that both academic staff and non-academic staff, including those that enrolled on IPPIS have not been paid.
The union leaders said they have mobilised their members for “no pay, no work” action if the federal government pays other university workers and withhold the salaries of ASUU members.
The Chairman of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) branch of ASUU, Dr. Olayinka Awopetu, told THISDAY that the union would invoke the International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreement to which Nigeria is a signatory.
He said: “If the salary is not paid, the union will invoke the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Agreement to which Nigeria is a signatory. The agreement is that if somebody is not paid his salary/ wages within 48 hours of the new month, he can declare ‘no pay no work’ rule to withdraw his services.
“Today is March 7, we have worked for February, which ends on 29; so, the government has run foul of the convention.”
The Federal University, Oye Ekiti chapter of ASUU, has also promised to apply ‘no pay, no work’ rule as soon as it gets a clear signal that the government is not prepared to pay the salaries of members opposed to IPPIS.
The academic body said both its members who did not enroll on IPPIS and the non-academic staff, who had fully complied with the presidential order, have not been paid their February salaries, in FUOYE.
The ASUU Vice Chairman, Dr. Habibat Adubiaro , said the academic staff will embark on strike to fight the federal government immediately they get a clear signal that their salaries have been withheld.
“As of now, we have not got a clear signal whether we will be denied our salaries because of our refusal to be captured by IPPIS as the non-academic staff, who had all registered have not been paid for February.
“We have held a meeting that immediately we sense that we are not likely to be paid that we should apply ‘no-pay, no work’ rule to fight the government,” he said.
The Chairman of University of Ilorin branch of ASUU, Prof Salihu Moyosore Ajao has also threatened that, if the salaries of their members for February are not paid when those of the non- teaching staff are paid, ASUU would proceed on its suspended strike action of “no pay, no work”.
Speaking with THISDAY on the threat of the federal government that no member of the ASUU that failed to enroll on IPPIS would be paid for February salary, Ajao described it as an empty one that would not have any effect on the members of the union across the nation’s universities.
He said: “Such a threat is a serious danger to the educational advancement of the university system and it would not take the nation anywhere.”
The Chairman of the Usmanu DanFodiyo University, branch of ASUU in Sokoto, Dr. Sabo Yabo, also told THISDAY that though the universities’ lecturers have not received their February salaries, the non-payment is not only peculiar to ASUU members.
He added that the non-academic staff and lecturers of federal colleges of education and polytechnics have not also been paid.
Yabo disclosed that currently, the union is having an emergency NEC meeting at Enugu, saying the outcome of the meeting will determine the next line of action.
He disclosed that if the federal government fails to pay even one member of ASUU as a result of non-enrollment on IPPIS, the union will embark on an indefinite strike.
Also, the Chairman, University of Jos chapter of ASUU, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, has confirmed that the lecturers in his University have not been paid February salary.
He told THISDAY that his branch is now waiting for directives from ASUU national secretariat on the next line of action.
Maigoro said: “We have not been paid February salary in Unijos. We are waiting for the decision of ASUU national Secretariat over the lack of payment of salary.”
The Chairman of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA) of ASUU in Katsina State, Mr. Yahaya Muhammed, said both academic and non-academic staff of the university has not been paid their February salary.
“We have not been paid our February salary, nobody, both academic and non-academic staff. So, we are waiting for an update or directive from the national secretariat of the union for the next line of action.”
He lamented what he termed insincerity on the part of the federal government ever since the IPPIS saga began, insisting that regular threats by the government would not deter them from pursuing their legitimate rights.
Similarly, the Sokoto zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Mr. Jamilu Shehu, confirmed that all lecturers in the five universities under his watch were yet to receive their February salary despite the agreement reached between the federal government and the union.
He explained that states’ branches of the union were awaiting directive from the union’s national headquarters for the next line of action.
The Sokoto zonal office of the union includes Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina; Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina; Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Sokoto State University; and Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero.
However, the Chairman of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria chapter, of ASUU, Prof. Rabiu Nasiru, said the union was not bothered about threats by federal government to stop the salaries of ASUU members who did not enroll on IPPIS.
“All I can say is that we are used to such threats by the government, this is not the first time they are issuing such threats. When we reach the bridge, we will cross it,” he said.
The Chairman of ASUU, Federal University of Wukari (FUW) chapter, Prof. Kidzu Oweh, told THISDAY that the NEC of ASUU will give an appropriate response.
He further revealed that ASUU members, who registered on the IPPIS platform in disregard to ASUU directive, would appear before the disciplinary committee and those found guilty would lose their Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
He, however, maintained that whatever steps that would be taken by ASUU would depend on the outcome of the ongoing meeting of the NEC of ASUU