• Non-academic staff threaten strike, say 75% for ASUU’ll breed corruption
• We’ve an understanding with FG, fight for your rights too, lecturers tell unions
Non-academic unions in universities and the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Tuesday differed on the Federal Government’s N40bn earned allowance for the institutions’ workers.
While ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview with The PUNCH, justified the the amount promised lecturers out the N40bn, non-academic unions described the Federal Government’s sharing formula as illogical and a divide and rule tactic.
The unions spoke as protests by non-academic staff over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System and the N40bn earned allowance rocked university towns across the country on Tuesday.
The Federal Government had, on December 22, as part of agreements reached with ASUU, promised to release N40bn earned allowance to universities. The academic union had on December 24 suspended a strike, which it started on March 23.
But the non-academic unions, which kicked against the N30bn promised ASUU, said the sharing formula was 75 per cent (N30bn) for the lecturers and 25 per cent for other unions.
N75% promised ASUU will breed corruption – Union
The General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, Mr Adeyemi Peters, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said the failure of the government to implement the recommendations of the forensic audit report on the earned allowance was the cause of the current crisis over the sharing formula.
Peters said the award of 75 per cent of the fund to ASUU was not based on any logic, noting that it would also breed corruption.
He explained that the audit report of consultants engaged by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation recommended the amount each university would earn as well the total amount that should be paid to the unions.
Peters said, “Since 2013, the government has been releasing money, but these releases have been done in a manner that ASUU gets a bigger chunk of what is released. So, the non-teaching staff said the government should conduct a forensic audit of what had been paid so far.
“It was agreed to by all the unions; and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation hired some consultants that carried out the forensic audit of what had been released, what had been paid and what was remaining.
“And what we said was that if the forensic report is out, the distribution of the money (N40billion) should be based on the outcome of the forensic report, which probably would have shown how much each staff member has received, and the outstanding and you can use that to determine scientifically the quantum of what each of the union gets, but the government abandoned the report and decided to now say the N40b should be shared 75 per cent to ASUU and 25 per cent to other unions.”
“We said no, that would contradict the idea of the forensic audit. What they are proposing is not based on any logic and it doesn’t portray transparency. That is why we are insisting on the use of the audit report to determine what would be paid to every staff member and what each union would get.”
The NASU secretary said his union did not have any issue with ASUU, but with government which he accused of awarding the sharing percentage randomly.
Peters noted, “What if what you owe them (ASUU) is below the percentage of you give to them? We don’t have a problem with ASUU, but we have a problem with the government. The approach of the government is biased in the distribution and it will not guarantee industrial peace.”
FG using divide and rule tactic –Union leader
Also, the President of the National Association of Academic Technologists, Mr Ibeji Nwokoma, in an interview with The PUNCH, accused the Federal Government of using divide and rule tactics to polarise the unions.
He stated that the decision to allocate N30b to ASUU was unfair and unacceptable, noting that the government had not disclosed the yardstick for the sharing formula.
Nwokoma stated, “We are not against the government giving any union what they think they should give, but the truth of the matter is that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Our earned allowance has been paid only up to 2011, whereas ASUU has been paid up to 2015 and if you give them N30b, you would now pay them to 2020.So, it is unfair, it is unjust and acceptable. Government is using divide and rule system.
Nwokoma said ASUU was probably being rewarded with the huge sum for going on strike, stressing that each of the unions could ground the university system. We have given the government 14-day ultimatum to review the sharing formula or we would shut down the universities.”
The President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Mohammed Ibrahim, during the union’s protest at the University of Abuja on Tuesday, said, “If the government remains adamant and the issues are not addressed, JAC (the Joint Action Committee) will take an action on Thursday.
“We also have our children in the universities. We hope that government will do the needful before the end of the three-day protest, but if that is not done, which we are not praying for, by Thursday we will be able to tell the whole world our next line of action.”
Also at UNIABUJA, the Treasurer of NASU, Sadiat Hassan, in an interview with journalists, said, “We are protesting against the irregularities in the IPPIS payment and demanding the renegotiation of our 2009 agreement which has been long overdue.
“We are also protesting against the non-payment of our earned allowances and injustice that was done by the Federal Government in the distribution of the earned allowance because they gave a particular union 75 per cent and other unions 25 per cent.
“This is against the agreement reached in October (last year) that the money should be for all the unions. So, we expect them to do justice to everybody.”
Also, members of SSANU at the Federal University Lokoja , Kogi State as early as 8am on Tuesday embarked on a peaceful protest.
The Chairman of SSANU/JAC in the university, Uche Onyedi, threatened that the unions would begin a nationwide strike, if government failed to meet their demands.
Addressing journalists during a protest at the Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State, the Chairman of JAC of the university, Mallam Muddasir Musa, said, “We tried to meet with them (government) and solve the problems, but it never worked.
“ We have decided to protest and if it fails to work, we will have to embark on a strike because it is the only language government understands.”
IPPIS has impoverished us – Non-academic workers
At the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, JAC lamented that joining the IPPIS introduced by the Federal Government had impoverished workers.
The JAC Chairman, Sulisma Jatau, who spoke to journalists at the commencement of the three-day protest by the unions, said the groups joined the IPPIS in error.
He stated, “The unions in the universities joined the IPPIS because we were deceived that it was a platform that would eradicate corruption and bring transparency.
“We even complained about some irregularities we had in some universities. We went there (Abuja) and rubbed minds and it took us almost six months to tell them that we had some peculiarities in some universities and the platform would not capture them.
“They promised us that that the platform would be flexible that it would encompass everything, but to our dismay, when we joined, we became poorer than we were.
“Our salaries are being deducted unnecessarily. In fact, for the past 11 months, we have been getting different salaries. So we discovered that for you to correct one anomaly, you have to go to Abuja. This is counterproductive. We now believe that that the IPPIS is corrupt.”
He said that the union signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Government on the issue on October 20, 2020, but nothing had been done.
He said: “We have waited for so long for the Federal Government to be able to understand our plight. We have to cry aloud to tell the public that we have been shortchanged and the Federal Government is not sensitive to our own plight. That is why we have to hold this protest to press home our demands.
“We have to do this protest at this moment because of the announcement of resumption date of the universities. We have so many issues on ground and as law-abiding unions, we don’t want to disrupt the calendar of the schools. That is why we want the government to be very proactive and come to our aid and meet our demands before schools resume.”
But the President of ASUU, Ogunyemi, in the interview with The PUNCH, absolved the union of blame in the sharing formula crisis.
Ogunyemi maintained that his union had an understanding with the government and what ASUU would be paid had been spelt out.
He stated, “I’m not going to go into the controversy. There is no problem with ASUU. I’m not going to go into any debate with anybody. All I know is that we have an understanding on what government would pay ASUU. We believe government would pay.
“What they are to pay ASUU members has been spelt out. The amount to be paid to each university has been spelt out and that’s what we believe we would be paid.
We have an understanding with govt, others can ask for their rights too – ASUU
“I don’t have business with any other union. Our concern is with ASUU members. I don’t have problem with any other unions because they too are asking for their rights. So, our rights should not stop their own and their own rights should not stop ours. Whatever they think they are qualified for we don’t have problem with that. We know what our members deserve and what has been established for our members we believe that government would pay.”
He also said ASUU was discussing with government on the payment of the earned allowance.
Recall that Ogunyemi, when he announced the suspension of the nine months strike which started on March 23, 2020 and ended on December 24, 2020, said that the Federal Government promised to pay the money before the end of December 2020.
Ogunyemi on Tuesday said, “We are engaging government on that. There were some initial obstacles and we have surmounted that obstacle so we have some understanding.”
NECO releases new dates for rescheduled 2020 SSCE exams
The National Examination Council (NECO) has announced a new date for the rescheduled 2020 Senior Secondary School Examinations (SSCE) external.
The organisation which earlier scheduled the examinations for Monday, February 1 to Wednesday, February 3, shifted it to between Monday, February 8 and Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
The examination body in a statement in Minna by its Head of Information, Mallam Azeez Sani, informed candidates who missed some papers during the 2020 SSCE (internal) due to the EndSARS protests in some states to adhere to the new dates and report for examinations accordingly at their various centres to be designated.
“All candidates are advised to access the revised examination time table on the council’s website,” he said.
Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Prof. Godswill Obioma, had during the release of the 2020 SSCE examinations (internal) said the council had made special arrangements for candidates who missed the internal examinations due to the EndSARS protest. He however added that the special arrangement would be at no extra cost to the affected candidates.
Buhari orders finance ministry, FIRS to remit all NASENI funds
…Sets target on locally made helicopters •Moves to check out of school children
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Federal Inland Revenue Service to remit all funds due the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) as statutorily provided in the constitution to the agency.
This is even as he also directed the agency to fast-track industrial development across the country, setting a target for the manufacturing of made-in-Nigeria helicopters for them.
The President gave the directives at the opening of the meeting of the governing board of NASENI in Abuja, where he urged board members to work towards repositioning the agency to achieve its mandate.
Speaking in his capacity as chairman of the governing board of NASENI, Buhari said: “In order to realise its full potential, NASENI must be empowered through the provision of adequate financial, human and material resources and be given the autonomy and independence to forge international partnerships to acquire the relevant technologies for socio-economic and industrial advancement of the country. In this regard, I have directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Federal Inland revenue Services to commence remittances of funds approved by law to the agency.”
Vice Chairman and CEO of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, who spoke to State House Correspondents after the meeting, disclosed that the agency had been given the marching order to produce a made-in-Nigeria helicopter.
He said a lot of progress had been made in developing the helicopter.
“Every component produced is required to be certified before we can deploy. So, to fast track these important things, that is the beginning. There is a matching order to have a made in Nigeria helicopter.”
He said the board had approved the use of local materials to produce solar cells, saying that the agency already had the capacity to produce 7.5 megawatts of solar panels in its assembly plant in Karshi, Abuja with imported cells.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate and lead the deployment of a national plan to address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.
In a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President stated this at the inauguration of a 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme (ASP) co-chaired by the Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs and Education, declaring that it was unacceptable to see children abandoning formal school to engage in menial jobs and child labour in the markets, streets and workshops.
The President explained that the national plan to be deployed by the Federal Government, through the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry, would ensure a holistic and comprehensive inclusiveness of appropriate basic education for vulnerable children.
“To commence this special education initiative, emphasis should be given to first provide a limited scope of subjects in Mathematics, English language, Basic Science and Social studies. Gradually, the initiative will be scaled up to ensure the acquisition of relevant technical skills in the process that can enable the beneficiaries to participate in gainful economic activities,” he said.
President Buhari noted that in view of “some United Nations agencies that report a disturbing level of out of school children estimated at 13 million”, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry had identified the critical need to further address literacy inclusiveness, especially among these vulnerable children.
Dr. Ugbaja Assumes Duty as UNIZIK Teaching Hospital Acting CMD
From Udeze Tempest, Nnewi
The Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State, was in celebration on Tuesday, January 25, as the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC, of the health institution, Dr. Joseph Ugbaja, took over as the Chief Medical Director of the hospital in acting capacity. He took over from Prof. Anthony Igwegbe, whose tenure ended January 25 this year.
The ceremony, which took place at the temporary site of the hospital in Nnewi, was witnessed by chairman of the hospital board, Chief Ezekiel Iramiya, who was represented by Mrs Rosemary Okeighazi; Prof. Umar Katsayal and Hon. Haruna Doguwa.
Other members of management staff present at the brief, but colourful handover ceremony were the out going CMD of the hospital, Prof. Anthony Igwegbe; Deputy CMAC, Dr Ugochukwu Ezejiofor; Head of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Chinyelu Onwuka; Head of Accounts, Mrs V.C Nduka; Head of Works, Mrs Pamela Ohanaja, and others.
Speaking after the handover ceremony, the outgoing Chief Medical Director, CMD, Chief Anthony Igwegbe, said Dr Ugbaja, being his direct deputy, was taking over from him on acting capacity.
“Dr. Ugbaja is taking over because he is my direct deputy. So, based on seniority, he will be acting until substantive CMD is elected. The process of electing substantive CMD of NAUTH is on. When the person comes, he will take over as substantive CMD.
“Meanwhile, construction and movement to the permanent site is ongoing. A lot has been done there, and I urge the Acting CMD to work hard to ensure that the vision of mobilising as much departments and equipments as possible to the permanent site is realised,” he advised.
In an acceptance speech, Dr. Ugbaja described the task an enormous responsibility; adding that he would give it all his energy to make it work.
“It is an enormous responsibility; but we are not afraid; because, we have been in the management level in the past seven years. But we need the support of all; because, we cannot do it alone.
“As we go into work, we have three cardinal agenda: Infrastructural development, staff training and acquisition of equipment. This administration would apply public/private module in driving the affairs of the hospital, since government cannot do it alone. Our vision is to rank as the top five teaching hospitals in Nigeria,” he said.
Dr. Ugbaja, a Consultant Optomologist and Gynecologist, served four years as Deputy Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee between 2013 and 2017, and Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, from 2017 till his recent appointment as Acting CMD.
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