The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, has asked the Federal Government for further clarifications on the payment of withheld salaries to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities who embarked on an eight-month-long strike in 2022.
The union noted that the statement issued by the Presidency only focused more on ASUU without referencing other university-based unions.
In 2022, major university-based unions embarked on strike, including ASUU, SSANU, and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Though the strike by SSANU and NASU lasted for a little over four months, the ASUU strike lasted for eight months.
The decision of the unions to embark on strike had led to the administration of the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, to invoke a no-work-no-pay rule on the workers.
But the administration of the President Bola Tinubu said he partially waived the “no work, no pay” order, amounting to the release of four months out of the eight months’ salary arrears of the lecturers withheld by the government.
Recall that the presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement conveying Tinubu’s decision, that the waiver was part of an ongoing effort to mitigate the difficulties being felt during the implementation of key economic reforms in the country.
But speaking with our correspondent, the National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, said, “We are still seeking further clarifications on the matter. Though the headlines captured ASUU, we believe that the government will not shortchange other university-based unions.”
On its part, ASUU said it would respond appropriately to the partial waiver on the eight months’ salary arrears issued by the Tinubu administration.
The Chairman of the union, Federal University of Technology, Minna branch, and a member of the National Executive Council, Prof Gbolahan Bolarin, said, “They (FG) have issued their statement. Definitely, our national body will also respond appropriately.”
Meanwhile, Ibrahim said Nigerian Embassies should collaborate to stop scholars sponsored abroad for training by the Federal Government from absconding.
He said this against the backdrop of reports that some scholars sponsored through the Tertiary Education Fund were absconding after completing their programmes abroad.
In July, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Sonny Echono, revealed that over 137 students sponsored on scholarship abroad absconded.
According to him, though there are guarantors expected to pay for whatever the sponsored students owed, collection of the funds has not been effective.
Speaking in an interview, Ibrahim said embassies should collaborate with the government in various countries to ensure that such scholars were denied jobs, adding that anyone who absconded after graduation should be punished.
He also said the laws for enlisting beneficiaries of such scholarships should be reviewed to accommodate guarantors who would have the capacity to pay for debts incurred.
He said, “It is because of the loose provisions in the law. There are forms you fill out when you are been sponsored, but I think the forms should be looked at and reviewed where necessary.
“There should be a collaboration of embassies with the government of such countries where these people go so that if a scholar graduates and absconds, he or she should be denied jobs. It is because they are getting jobs, that’s why they are absconding.
“It is expected that after study, students sponsored abroad should come back and spend some time in their country and fulfill the purpose of the sponsorship before they can go back if they want to.”
He added, “People should also provide guarantors that can guarantee that these persons going will come back.
“It is not a good thing for you to be given government money for training and instead of you to come back, you decide to abscond. That is criminal and people who do that should be punished according to the laws of the land.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.