The Federal Government has commenced plans to pay the Congress of University Academics their withheld salaries and rectify the “half salaries” paid to all lecturers under the newly registered union for the month of October 2022, PUNCH has reliably gathered.
Sources familiar with the matter made it known to our correspondent on Saturday in Abuja.
The lecturers under CONUA just like the Academic Staff Union of Universities had their salaries withheld following the invocation of the No-Work-No-Pay policy by the Federal Government during the height of the ASUU strike.
Though the coordinator of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, noted that members of CONUA were not on strike, the lecturers still had their salaries withheld.
CONUA, a breakaway faction of the Academic Staff of Universities, was registered in October, 2022 by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Ngige, who spoke during the presentation of certificates to CONUA and another association, the National Association of Medical and Dental Lecturers in Academics, noted the two unions would exist alongside ASUU in the university system.
The minister had also gone ahead to challenge ASUU to move to the court of law if it was displeased with the registration of CONUA and NAMDA.
Speaking to our correspondent, a source within the Ministry of Labour said, “The government will pay CONUA their withheld salaries; they wrote and it was proven that they didn’t join the strike. The minister has also approved it so yes, they will be paid. As for ASUU, I can’t say at the moment but be rest assured that CONUA members will have their withheld allowances and salaries released.”
Confirming the development, the Coordinator of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, said, ”We have been told to start some processes with some ministries and agencies which we have commenced and we are following up to ensure that the salaries are paid.”
The PUNCH reports that there has been controversies following the payment of half salaries by the government to members of ASUU.
Defending the government’s decision, Ngige, in a statement on Saturday, noted that the government decided to pay the lecturers “pro-rata”.
“They were paid in pro rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day they suspended their industrial action.
“Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”
Edo NAPPS Distances Self From Viral Video Insulting Obaseki, Calls For Probe
The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Edo State chapter, has disclaimed and distanced itself from a viral video wherein the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki was insulted and lampooned.
This followed a video circulating online wherein NAPPS in Edo State was called upon to reject all PDP candidates linked to Governor Godwin Obaseki.
In the video already trending online, they (NAPPS) alleged that Obaseki is deliberately destroying their business after giving him all the support during the 2020 governorship election.
They further accused the state Governor of introducing damaging taxes and fees on on them
But a statement signed by Reuben Ekhosuehi, Chairman NAPPS Edo State, said: “We have observed with total dismay the attitude of some faceless group of people trying to drag the name of State Chairman, Hon. Ekhosuehi Reuben Ikponmwen and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Edo State in a muddy water.
“We want to state categorically that we disassociate ourselves from the trendy video and audio messages castigating our amiable Governor, His Excellency, Mr Godwin Enogheghase Obaseki, and the Hon. Commissioner for Education, Dr Joan Osa Oviawe.”
Comrade Ikponmwen explained: “We will never do anything to bring down the reputation of our state Governor, and the State Ministry of Education.As law abiding citizens, we are aware of the right avenue of negotiating with the government on any issue pertaining to the welfare of our union and that of the development of Education in the state and not to embark on cheap blackmail.
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“We hereby urge the State to use all possible means to investigate the source of this publication in order to bring the culprits to book.It should be noted that the chairman of NAPPS, Edo State Chapter is a card carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is also aspiring for a political position in the state in the fourth coming election.
“He will not be so naive to champion a course that is asking for Edo people not to vote for any PDP candidate in the 2023 elections. We see this publication as political motivated to tannish the image of our able Chairman and to put our association at a logger Head with the state government.
“We implore the government to take this issue serious in order to get to the root of this matter as the author refused to sign any of the publications.
“Our Association as a registered body will not work under unanimous. We are responsible and established to assist the government in rendering educational services to our people and not to condemn and fight the government. We remain loyal and committed to the government of the state,” he stressed.
BREAKING: ASUU Receives Full Salaries For November, Arrears Withheld
Lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have received full salaries for the month of November 2022.
It was also gathered that the eight month arrears remained withheld by the Federal Government.
A senior member of the union at the Bayero University Kano made this known in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Wednesday.
“Some of our members have started receiving salaries and I can confirm to you that we received our full salaries for the month of November. However, the arrears are still withheld.”
The PUNCH reports that the Federal Government refused to pay the striking lecturers for the eight months which the union embarked on strike.
The lecturers, in October 2022 were also paid pro-rata (half-pay) according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Lecturers across the country have been protesting against this decision by the Federal Government.
The National Executive Council of the union is expected to hold a crucial meeting in the coming days over the withheld salaries.
ASUU: Fresh Protests Rock Universities As FG Remains Adamant
Fresh revelations have indicated that there is no end in sight to resolving the intractable dispute between members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government.
That the Federal Government’s hard stance on “no work, no pay policy” could fuel another round of crisis in the education sector.
Recall that ASUU had called off its eight-month-old strike in October following an intervention by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila had brokered peace between the Federal government and ASUU after all negotiations had failed.
Within a few days of his mediation, Gbajabiamila negotiated an acceptable agreement between the duo, with a promise that the government would pay the university workers their withheld salaries for the months they were on strike.
However, early in November, the members of the Union were bewildered following the payment of half salaries for only 18 working days in the month of October to its members by the Federal Government.
Speaking on why ASUU members were paid half salaries for the month of October, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, in a statement issued by his ministry, said the lecturers were paid in pro-rata for the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action.
Recall that the Federal government had insisted on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy for the period the university workers were away from their duty posts.
However, nearly two months after the academic staff members returned to work, they have continued to lament the unyielding response of the government to their withheld salaries.
Not relenting on their struggle, ASUU mandated its branches to hold a one-day nationwide protest over the payment of half salaries to lecturers by the Federal Government in October, with ASUU members at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), University of Ibadan (UI), amongst others, protesting.
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ibadan Zone, which comprises the University of Ibadan (UI), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso and the University of Ilorin, protested on Monday against what they described as the victimisation of their members by the federal government and its agents.
Speaking with journalists during the protest, the Chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan, Professor Ayoola Akinwole, lamented that despite reaching an agreement with the Speaker, which led to the suspension of the strike, none of the items on the said agreement had been implemented.
He said, “The agreement with the Speaker included the following: The government is going to sign the new salary package, payment of the withheld salaries from March to October 2022
“Payment of the withheld third-party deductions, including Check-off dues from March to October 2022, non-victimisation of ASUU members who took part in the strike.
“Today’s protest has become necessary due to our conviction that the federal government is on a mission to destroy the public universities through inadequate funding and through its war against ASUU.”
He maintained that ASUU has had a historical responsibility to protect the public universities from collapse and fight for its members and the interest of Nigerian students.
Speaking to the DAILY POST on the same issue, the ASUU-UNN branch chairman, Comrade Christian Opata lamented that the government has not been serious about the issue of education.
He said, “The issue is that the government is not being serious about the issue of education in Nigeria, because, one, they pleaded with us to honour the court, knowing that ASUU is a very patriotic and legal organisation; we are law-abiding citizens.
“Yes, we know that there is a subsisting court order, but if we wanted to disobey that court order, we had every right to disobey it because it is a question of our rights.
“The same government that is saying obey the court order, there are many court orders which they have not obeyed. And what is even the bone of contention is something that is legal- an agreement that was signed – and you reneged on it. You reneged on an agreement, and somebody you signed an agreement with is telling you to implement the agreement, and you turn around to punish the person saying the person is obdurate. Well, I don’t know where to situate that.
“So the disappointment even starts from the point of view that the government reneged on an agreement it signed willingly.”
On how the Union members have been coping given the government’s stance, Opata disclosed that many of his colleagues have not let the issue affect their productivity at workplace.
“The issue is that many of them have been teaching, and I am even surprised that many of them are teaching happily. I thought that some of them would be grudging and even victimising students. But even to my knowledge, it has not happened within my university community. The students have been going to classes and having their exams. Some have even finished their exams.
“Tomorrow they shall continue because most of our members did not go for exams today because of this issue of our rally; we held a protest today. So that does not mean that we are on strike; they did it because it is part of the meeting being held.
“The issue is that, for now, they are teaching, our members are teaching. They are attending to students and their projects, even the postgraduate students (Masters and Ph.d),” he said.
On whether the Union will embark on another strike if the government failed to pay them the withheld salaries, he said, “No individual chairperson can decide that because it is only when we meet and we have a decision on that; no branch chairperson can speak on behalf of NEC.”
As it stands, amidst starvation and hunger, members of the Union have vowed not to let down the gauntlet in their lingering fight with the Federal government until their demands are met.
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