Absu staff Unions says no salary was paid one week after protest


Staff Unions at the Abia State University Uturu says no action has been taken to up set their salary arrears one week after its peaceful protest.

Recall that the staff Unions including Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-academic staff of Education and Associated Institutions, and National Association of Academic Technologist had taken to the versity campus to protest six months unpaid salary last week.

The state government in a statement by the chief press secretary to the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, had also approved the sum of 400 million Naira bailout fund for the state University to  ameliorate its financial burdens.

But in a rejoinder signed by
Victor U. Nkemdirim, Ph.D, Ojo Ezichi Obasi
ASUU-ABSU Chairperson, and SSANU Chairman, Onuoha Canice Chika,
Elder Ndimele Okoro
NASU Chairman, NAAT Chairman the staff Unions lamented that no concrete action has been taken to solve their problems.

Read details of their stand.

It is strange and extremely pertinent that a full week after the peaceful protest at Abia  State  University,  Uturu  by  various  unions  over  the nonpayment  of  six-month salaries,  nothing  tangible  has been  recorded  beyond mere press  statements  on  purported release  of  funds  by the Abia State Government to the University. 

For  those  who  wish  to  know,  it  is  very wrong  to  say  that  Abia  State  University  staffers  have  never  been  owed salaries. Only  a  permanent  OUTSIDER  to  the  situation of things in  the  university  could  have said such a loaded bundle of lies.

We,  the  staff,  have  been  suffering  and  smiling,  believing  and  hoping  that
the Management would do the needful without us washing our dirty linens in public.

As   stated   in   our  Press   conference,   WE   ARE   HEAVILY   OWED.   This   
includes arrears  of  2009  FGN/Staff Unions  Agreements,  our unremitted  Co-operative  money  deducted from our salaries and seized, amongst  others. These debts were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We   have   been   experiencing   staggered   salary   payments   for   years now.   Our salaries have never  been  paid  at  the  end of each month. Rather it is usually one month-in-three-months staggered payment as it takes more than  a  month for everyone to receive his/her pay. In the past 10 years, it is probably once that staff at the university got their December salaries in December. In the rest of the period, December salaries would be received by February or March of the next year.

That  the  workers  never  carried  placards  of  commendation  for  the management is a clear indication that all is not well at Abia State University. We did not march to the streets earlier before now to protest the inhuman treatment we have been experiencing  because  we  believed  in collective bargaining and dialogue.  Our quietness was taken for granted. We have been pushed to the wall and we have to resist it.
The  statutory  subvention,  which  is  supposed  to  be  monthly,  has  never  been regular and it is more often than not released just once or twice in a year and in many  cases  not  released at all. By the way, how can the government of a state owned  university  contribute  only  30%  to  the  funding  of  her  University? And this is very irregularly done!  What  we have in Abia State University is the reverse of  what  is  obtainable  to  other  State-owned Universities. It will interest the general public to know that in some other State- owned Universities the  State  governments  contribute  more  than  80%  of the funding of their University.

There  are  two  pertinent  questions  to  the  government,  the  management  of 
Abia State  University  and  indeed  the  author:  Are the students of the  state  universities  that  paid  their workers  up  till  August  2020 on campus?  Did the  COVID-19 pandemic not disrupt academic activities in the Universities where staff were paid? Let us be properly guided.

The  author  of  that  piece - “Understanding the issues at Abia State University" -portrays the University as a private university. His equating Abia State University with a medical doctor's  private clinic smacks of gross ignorance. His analogy is inappropriate and can only pass as a piece of propaganda. His is a case of the proverbial outsider who was not around when a corpse was buried and expectedly began to exhume it from a very wrong and dangerous position.

Abia State University is owned by the Abia State government and should be properly funded by the State like other State-owned universities.

It’s quite laughable when one out of lack of information takes to the media to say that  “No  University  in  the  world  can  survive,  pay  salaries  and  maintain  their services  when  it  was  shut  down.  It is impossible.”  Many Universities in Nigeria (and of course, South Eastern Nigeria), not to talk of the ones outside Nigeria   have paid their workers up till August 2020. And most of these universities provided the staff with palliatives.

The fact that the university has remained a signpost for Excellent and Service (the enviable heights and impressive standards achieved by the university) attest to the hardwork and commitment of staff in teaching, researching and community services. This notwithstanding, the staff welfare have not been responsibly taken care of over the years.  Now, we have resolved not to suffer in silence anymore. It is very pitiable that a state-owned university will depend on its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to run the university.

The  much advertised  400  million naira purportedly given to Abia State University as a bailout is with due respect a mere scratch to the problem. We need ₦1.6b to address the issue of salaries alone, not to talk of other outstanding benefits and arrears.
It  is  therefore  important  that  we  consider  the  following  arrears  to  be  able to understand how grossly inadequate the 400 million naira bailout is:

1.   Monthly Wagebill ₦274,759,279.36 (Two Hundred and Seventy Four Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty-Nine Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy Nine Naira Thirty-Six Kobo).

2.   April - August 2020 salaries. = ₦1,197,642,610.91 (One Billion, One Hundred and Ninety-Seven Million, Six Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Six Hundred and Ten Naira, Ninety Kobo). Please, note that September salaries are not included here as we are yet to ascertain the total wagebill for September 2020 salaries payment.

3.   Unremitted Co-operative deductions - ₦370,426,738.26 (Three Hundred and Seventy Million, Four Hundred and Thirty-Eight Naira Twenty Six Kobo).

4. Arrears of shortfall of 2009 FGN/Staff Unions Agreements, from July 2009 – December 2010, amounting to ₦1,530,293,850.82 (one billion, five hundred and thirty million, two hundred and ninety three thousand, eight hundred and fifty naira eighty two kobo).

5.   Unremitted check-off dues. = ₦26,286,098.87 (Twenty Six Million, Two 
Hundred and Eighty-Six Thousand, Ninety Eight Naira, Eighty Seven Kobo).

We thank the Abia State government for the interest they have shown in the approval of the release of 400m. We urge the government to demonstrate tangible interest, given the marked disparity between the approved release and the differential. Government should also ensure to mark up the release and also ensure that her directives are carried out to the latter without delay.

Signed: for and on behalf of the Unions.

Victor U. Nkemdirim, Ph.D Ojo Ezichi Obasi
ASUU-ABSU Chairperson SSANU Chairman.

Onuoha Canice Chika,
Elder Ndimele Okoro
NASU Chairman, NAAT Chairman.

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