Crisis looms in varsities as non-teaching staff protest on Monday

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and associated institutions have concluded plans to begin a three-day protest on Monday that could snowball into full-scale industrial action.

National President of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, who stated this in Abuja, yesterday, explained that the unions were agitated by the non-reinstatement of their members in universities’ staff schools, offering of 20 percent of the earned allowance to non-teaching staff and 80 percent to teaching staffers and exclusion from running of National University Pension Company (NUPENCO).

He added that the three-day protest would serve as a warning to the federal government of the impending national industrial action that he tagged “mother of all strikes” in the next few weeks if their demands were not met.

“The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the two unions has approved protests at the branches and zonal levels of our unions and mother of all protests in Abuja for three days. We shall communicate these steps to the federal government before a deadline is given for a mother of all strikes that will follow.

“The protests will commence on Monday, July 15. We urge our members nationwide to comply with this directive. Our action shall be total and comprehensive. Nobody should be seen in the offices during the protests.”

Ugwoke hinted that while the unions are unhappy with the federal government over these issues, they are pleased to allow the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) that would incorporate the nuances of the university system.

He stated: “At a meeting with the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, National Universities Commission (NUC), Salaries and Income Wages Commission and the four university-based unions, we put into context the peculiarities of the university system and the implementation of IPPIS.

“It was agreed that a new software system by the consultant should take care of all the peculiarities of the university system. JAC of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and associated institutions (NASU) would partially support the implementation of IPPIS in the university system.”

On the National University Pension Company (NUPENCO), the newly-registered pension manager, the National Executive Council of JAC considers the role of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) from the beginning of the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) till date as inadequate, with Ugwoke alleging that the leaderships of both NASU and SSANU have not been carried along from registration of the firm to employment of staff that was unilaterally done by ASUU.

He further alleged that ASUU only wants the money of the non-teaching staff to fund the PFA, while the JAC also alleged that the PFA would not be in a position to sustain the payment of retirement benefits to ASUU members, saying the teaching staff union had perfected a plan to ensure that professors retire with their salaries, which would be too high for the PFA to execute.

“We in the system know the rate at which people become professors. There is no PFA that can pay the salaries of professors at the rate they are churned out now, where it is very easy for the teaching staffers to become professors.

“We cannot allow our members to fund a PFA that they were not a part of. The decision reached here is that as long as the national leadership of JAC is not involved in the PFA, no non-teaching staffer is allowed to enroll in the PFA,” he stressed.

On earned allowances, he said: “The recent sharing of money collected from the Federal Ministry of Education, whereby 80 percent of the money was given to ASUU, while the non-teaching staffers got only 20 percent is not acceptable to JAC.

“We hereby reject the 20 percent allocation to the three unions in the system and demand the sum of N30billion as part of the earned allowance of non-teaching from 2009 to 2016.”

The two unions called on the federal government to hasten the audit of the federal universities’ earned allowance to determine how much was shared and how much is remaining, just as JAC urged the government to speed up action on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.

Ugwoke added: “This agreement we are talking about ought to be renegotiated every three years; it ought to have been renegotiated three times since 2009. But as we speak, the committee is still dilly-dallying.

“We also call on the federal government to include the inter-university centers in the payment of earned allowances, because they are part and parcel of the university system.”