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The Federal Government yesterday insisted on no-work, no-pay for members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who spoke after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said the government has paid the teachers what was due to them.
“I think that’s the position of the government; that it is not going to pay anyone for work not done and they only did, I think, the number of days that they were paid,” he said.
The minister denied ASUU leadership’s claim that the teachers were being treated like casual workers.
He asked: “How can anybody make a university lecturer a casual worker? Do you know the meaning of casual worker? If you know the meaning of the casual worker, it is impossible to make a university lecturer a casual worker.”
When told that the teachers were planning to stay off work for a day in protest, he said: “I’m not aware. That they are going on strike? No, nobody has told me.
“So let’s wait till the work-free day comes, then I’ll find out the details and we’ll discuss.
“You can ask me then, but at the moment, I’m telling you honestly, I do not know that there is a problem.”
Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, appealed to ASUU to take the ‘no work no pay’ rule in good faith and continue teaching for the sake of students.
He urged them to shift ground and make some compromises.
Ogunbanjo said: “ASUU should take it in good faith and continue teaching. They should understand the economic situation of the country.
“The country is borrowing. According to the government, it has met 70 to 80 per cent of their yearnings, so they should be ready to sacrifice.
“Parents are appealing to them since the government has made it obvious it cannot exceed its planned budget. ASUU should shift ground because of our children and students.
“Threatening to go on strike through protests across universities would not work because the government would not pay attention.
“The government’s insistence on the ‘no work no pay’ rule is a sort of warning to other unions who may want to go on strike and still want to be paid.”
Also yesterday, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, said the government alone cannot fund education.
He spoke in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, at the inauguration and handing over of a 25-bedroom “Bola Babalakin Guest House” to Fountain University, Osogbo.
The sultan called for dialogue and peaceful negotiation among stakeholders instead of embarking on strike without considering the fate of students.
He said: “We just came out of an unfortunate ASUU crisis. For eight months, our children were at home. It was very sad and frustrating but these are things that we could have avoided by continuously talking.
“The best thing is that anytime there is a problem, you sit down and discuss to find a way out.
“When you have a problem with anyone, what you should do is sit down and dialogue honestly and once you have agreed on any terms please try to implement your agreement.”
Former University of Lagos Pro-Chancellor, Wale Babalakin (SAN), whose family donated the guest house, said educational institutions must find ways of generating revenue from sources that will not detract from their primary goal of providing a very good education for the students.
He agreed with the Sultan that the government alone cannot fund education and called on well-spirited individuals to support the development of the education sector.
ASUU Chairman at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Dr. Ray Chikogu, accused the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, of anti-labour tendencies and attempt to criminalise strikes in Nigeria.
He also alleged that the Federal Government was attempting to abdicate its constitutional role to Nigerians of providing quality and affordable education to the teeming young persons, with the way it was handling the industrial crisis involving ASUU.
Chikogu spoke in Benin, ahead of UNIBEN’s ASUU members’ peaceful protest against the Federal Government’s payment of half salary for October, and non-payment of the eight months’ arrears.
He said: “This atrocious course of action by the Federal Government is clearly borne out of unpatriotic and selfish intent, without any consideration for the growth and developmental needs of this nation.
“In the end, the Federal Government is seeking to abdicate its responsibility towards the provision of free, quality and accessible education to ordinary Nigerians, against the dictates of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…
“The attempt at criminalising strikes by the unlawful withholding of the salaries for the eight months that the recently-suspended ASUU strike lasted, and the equally illegal payment of prorated salaries to university lecturers for the month of October 2022 has a far more sinister implication beyond the members of ASUU.”
A former member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Eddie Mbadiwe, argued that while the Federal Government cannot meet all the demands of ASUU, the government should step up its offers to the lecturers.
Mbadiwe, who represented Ideato North and South Federal Constituency of Imo State, lamented that lecturers were teaching under terrible conditions.
The former University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) lecturer, spoke at the public presentation of his book: “Nigerian Universities Echoes from the Underground” in Abuja.
He said: “They (ASUU and Federal Government) are not talking well. When I was a lecturer, the furniture they put in my office I had to throw it away and buy my furniture. The conditions of lecturers are terrible.
“Everybody has to give and take. The arrears of salaries they are demanding no government can pay that. If the government pay,s it will go broke.
“ASUU must step down on its demands while the government steps up what it is offering the union.”
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