Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states on Wednesday held peaceful protests against the pro-rata salary they received in October as well as the no-work, no-pay salary policy of the Federal Government.
The union embarked on a strike action on Monday, February 14, 2022, to protest the non-implementation of the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding reached with it by the Federal Government among other issues. However, after calling off the strike, the government only paid them for half of October.
The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti chapter, Dr Kayode Arogundade, accused the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Ministers of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, and Education, Adamu Adamu, of nursing negative agenda for education.
Arogundade said, “We are expressing our displeasure concerning the Federal Government’s draconian decision of no-work, no-pay introduced by Ngige and sanctioned by the FG. Our interest is that we are not casual workers; nobody is paying us wages; what we are getting are salaries.”
According to him, it is criminal for anybody to think of imposing no-work, no-pay to the extent of paying half a salary because people decide to agitate for their rights and demands.
He said, “They don’t want Nigeria’s educational system to flourish. The educational system today is suffering in the hands of our leaders. Foreign universities are now feeding fat on us. You can imagine how much parents are looking for each year to sponsor their wards to foreign universities.
“We are appealing to all Nigerians to speak to the Federal Government and tell them that they should not wait for us to start another round of action. We are getting used to it; you have not paid us for eight months this year; we are not dead; we are still alive, so the government should not push us to a state whereby we become so adamant to the extent that we don’t care whatever happens.”
Leading the protest in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State, the newly elected Chairman of the branch, Prof. Anthony Odiwe said the Minister of Labour, Ngige, should not take the issue personal. According to Odiwe, the union would re-assess the situation after protests across its branches before deciding on its next line of action.
He said, “We are not troublemakers; we are a union of intellectuals. The latest insult to our union is the payment of prorated salaries to our members. To us, it is a distraction. We have been on strike for eight months, and those issues are still there. The government has not addressed them, and those that have been addressed have not been completely addressed.
“The government must do the needful; we are not casual workers, and they should not turn us into one.” ASUU members at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, slammed the FG for criminalising academics. The FUTA ASUU chairman, Prof. Yinka Awopetu, said the protest was to condemn the action of the Federal Government on the non-payment of salary arrears.
“We didn’t go on strike because we wanted to go on strike, but because the government failed to do its part; we can’t be punished for that. The way forward is for the Federal Government to do what is necessary and pay us our money,” he added.