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ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has invited the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige and several others to appear before the lawmakers on Thursday next week

Gbajabiamila, who said this on Thursday at the resumed fact-finding meeting on the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Universities (ASUU), also invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan; the Accountant General of the Federation; Director General, Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission; the Director General Budget Office among others.

As part of the push to resolve the lingering ASUU strike, Gbajabiamila, alongside his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase and other leaders of the House on Thursday met with the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS),  the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, among other government officials.

Thursday’s meeting was a sequel to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday where issues related to the strike were discussed.

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting led the House leadership to invite the Head of Service, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission, and the Accountant General of the Federation, among others.

“At Thursday’s meeting, NITDA told the House leadership that the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) failed its integrity tests regarding the university payroll, which the agency conducted between March and JUNE this year,” the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, said in a statement.

“According to a NITDA official at the meeting, the government directed the agency to test UTAS in October 2020, adding that the platform failed the two integrity tests conducted on it.

“He said following the first test, ASUU was asked to go back and review, which it did. Yet, the platform did not meet NITDA’s requirements the second time.

“For the third time, NITDA was then asked to conduct tests on UTAS, IPPIS, and U3PS, which the official said all three platforms failed its requirements regarding the payroll system of universities.”

Lasisi added that “Not satisfied with the explanation, Speaker Gbajabiamila asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by the government since 2011. But the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.

“Gbajabiamila also asked if NITDA queried the IPPIS platform, to which the official responded in the negative.

Deputy Speaker Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised the government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.

“But the Head of Service, in her explanation, said the ministry of communications and digital economy wrote her office following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a committee was empaneled to carry out the assignment.

“She also noted that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noting that all those directly under her purview have since complied.

“Also, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr Nta, told the House leadership that in view of the general agitation in the tertiary education sector, the agency advised the government to look at the possibility of increasing the salaries of the staff in the entire sector, comprising universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

“He said, however, that at the end of the day, the government decided to increase the salaries of lecturers in the universities by a certain percentage, while professors were considered for higher percentage.

“He said he was not aware of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.

“Also speaking at the meeting, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.

“After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday next week, which the stakeholders subscribed to. The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to Thursday next week.”

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Education

Obi Vows To Stop ASUU Strikes If Elected President

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi has said that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will not embark on industrial action if he is elected president.

Obi spoke at a campaign rally in Owerri, the Imo state capital city, on Tuesday.

The former governor of Anambra said the future of any serious country is dependent on education and health, adding that he would invest in the two sectors.

“If you make me your president and Datti my vice, ASUU won’t go on strike. We will dialogue with them.We will work with the student

“The future of any serious country is dependent on their education and health sectors. I will invest hugely in those sectors if you elect us”, he said.

 

 

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Education

“We Were Not Part Of Strike”, CONUA Vows To Sue F.G Over Withheld Salaries

Rival Academic union, Congress of University Academics has expressed its disappointment with the Federal Government, especially the Ministry of Labour and Employment, over the non-payment of its members’ withheld salaries “even when the government knew that the union did not call for strike action and its members were not involved in the strike action that lasted for eight months and which shut down the university system nationwide.”

In statement on Tuesday by its National President, Secretary and Publicity Secretary, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, Dr Henry Oripeloye and Dr Ernest Nwoke, respectively, CONIA  argued that it was wrong for the FG to lump CONUA with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities who went on eight months strike between February and October, 2022.

The new union of lecturers thereby viewed to sue FG for withholding its members’ salaries.

The statement partly read, “CONUA formally made its non-involvement in the strike known to the Federal Government in a letter addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, in April 2022.

“In the letter, we made it clear that because CONUA constituted a separate and independent union in the university system, our members did not call for any strike. This was followed by a Press Conference in Abuja on August 19, 2022 at which it was categorically stated that CONUA was not part of any ongoing strike, and that the “No Work No Pay” principle ought not to apply to members of the union.

“CONUA’s expectation is that, due to the express and categorical declaration, the government would seamlessly release our members’ outstanding salaries when it resumed the payment of salaries to all university staff in October 2022. But to our dismay, CONUA members were also paid pro-rata salaries in complete disregard to the fact that we were indeed shut out of duties by the strike.

“Subsequently, we wrote to the Accountant-General of the Federatıon and the Ministry of Labour and Employment reminding them that it was an error to lump our members with those that declared and embarked on strike action. It was yet another shock for the outstanding backlog of salaries not to have been paid to our members along with the November 2022 salary.”

CONUA said the non-payment of “our withheld salaries” contravenes Section 43 (1b) of the Trade Disputes Act CAP. T8, which stated that “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remunerations for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment.”

“This provision is consistent with global best practices,” it added.

“From the foregoing and as a law-abiding union that pledged to do things differently, we have resolved to seek legal redress of the illegal withholding of our legitimate salaries by taking the matter to court in consonance with the rights enshrined in our laws,” the union said.

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Education

Again, ASUU Berates FG Over “Half-Salary”

The Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) has again slammed the federal government over non-implementation of its demands.

ASUU has been at loggerheads with the government over its decision to pay members half of their salaries after the union’s eight-month strike ended.

The national executive council (NEC) of the union held a two-day meeting at the University of Calabar (UNICAL) in Cross River state to review the development and other issues affecting members.

The national president, Emmanuel Osodeke in a statement said ASUU faulted the federal government’s policies on education including the proposed introduction of education loans.

The union said such policies are indication that the government is not ready to fund public varsities.

“NEC observed with concern the systematic disengagement of government from funding of Public Universities through the proposed introduction of education loan which has proven to be a monumental failure in our nation and some other countries where it was introduced,” the statement reads.

“We find it troubling that the proponents of the policy are so eager to foist it down the throat of Nigerians when they have done more to push the working people of this country into poverty through sheer incompetence in handling the economic fortunes of our nation.

“ASUU calls on Nigerians of goodwill to, in the interest of our students and the nation, prevail on the Nigerian government to urgently address all outstanding issues contained in the December 2020 FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action.

“NEC rejects with vehemence, the current attempts to impose master-slave treatment as a mechanism for relating with Nigerian scholars under whatever guise by the ruling class. ASUU members are citizens, not slaves.

“Finally, NEC appreciates the resilience of our members and their families. Their understanding and perseverance, in the face of hardship and provocation occasioned by the government’s intransigence and insensitivity shall be rewarded by posterity.”

On half salaries paid to members, ASUU said: “As reflected in the pro-rated salaries paid to our members for the month of October 2022, as well as the continued withholding of our member’s salaries for the preceding eight months, even when the backlog of the work is being covered by our members in various universities.”

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