By Cross Udo, Abuja
For the umpteenth time, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), has called on the federal government to pay the four months arrears owed to her members during the last nationwide strike.
SSANU, in a communique signed by its National President, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, at the end of its 44th National Executive Council (NEC), meeting held at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State said that its members are yet to recover from the effect of the hardship caused by the withholding of their four months salaries.
It said that they may never recover from it unless the government does something about it.
While describing the government’s posture and position on the matter as unfair and unfortunate, he said that the union is aware that the salaries for those months were prepared.
He, therefore, called on Government to urgently pay the arrears of her members’ withheld salaries without further delay.
According to the communique, “The Labour Act 2005 section 31(6) as amended gives rights to Labour Unions to embark on strikes in line with laid down procedures. It would be recalled that Government had reneged on collective bargaining agreements with the Union leading to the industrial action.
“SSANU complied with and followed all industrial protocol before embarking on the strike. How then do they turn back and punish employees for fighting for their rights; a case of beating a child and asking him/her not to cry?
“Let it be known to Government that our members are yet to recover from the effect of the hardship caused by the withholding of their four months’ salaries, and may not recover from it unless the government does something about it.
“NEC in session views Government posture and position on the matter as unfair and unfortunate. We are well aware that salaries for those months were prepared, and therefore call on Government to urgently pay the arrears of our members’ withheld salaries without further delay.”
Similarly, the NEC in session observed that despite the efforts of the Union to ensure that some of her members who are yet to be paid arrears of the national minimum wage which was approved in 2018 are paid, Government is yet to do the needful.
The NEC, therefore, called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, commence payment to the affected universities.
Furthermore, the NEC in session demanded that the Federal Government should consider merging the payment platforms developed by the Joint Action Committee of SSANU and NASU (U3PS) and ASUU (UTAS) since it is on record that the platforms are capable of addressing the peculiarities of the University system.
“NEC in session vehemently condemns the recent arbitrary and blanket dissolution of Governing Councils of Federal Universities by the Federal Government. This action is illegal, and inimical to the growth and proper functioning and management of Universities in Nigeria, as the appointment of the Governing Councils is tenured in line with the extant laws as gazetted.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Law also provides that Governing Councils can only be dissolved on proven cases of corruption and incompetence.
“NEC, therefore, rejects in totality the dissolution and calls on Government to reinstate the dissolved Governing Councils without further delay, as the action of dissolution is a breach and infraction on the extant law that established them. NEC further demands that the Governing Council of Nigerian Universities be exempted and listed amongst Statutory Commissions, Councils, and Agencies to forestall any arbitrary dissolution of University Governing Councils in Nigeria.”
Reacting to the recent fiat removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government, the NEC in session described the move as the height of insensitivity.
“This terrible action without measures to assuage the already poverty-stricken masses has plunged the nation into deeper economic woes causing hyper-inflation and reduced economic growth and household income.
“Even as we welcome the subsidy removal, we are most worried about the method and glaring absence of visible palliative measures to cushion its strangulating effects. The impromptu removal has thrown the country into its darkest and most grim economic debacle ever imagined.
“NEC in session, therefore, frowns at the sudden removal of fuel subsidy and describes it as the height of insensitivity, and calls on Government to urgently stem this devastating tide by introducing remedial measures through the provision of genuine palliative measures of reduced public transport, sound economic policies to checkmate inflation and verifiable revamping of existing refineries/ building new ones; only these measures can prevent the country from grinding to a halt.
“NEC in session views the monumental socio-economic upheavals in the Nigerian State as symptomatic of a failing state opposed to peace and progress. A country with vast potential of human and material resources is enmeshed in unbridled corruption and massive mismanagement which undoubtedly spells doom and total collapse if nothing is urgently done.
“The country is economically prostate because of bad Government policies, high rate of unemployment fuelling dangerous insecurity challenges of kidnapping, banditry, youthful fraudulent activities, inflation, bad roads, failed medical facilities and all attendant manifestations of a dying nation.
“NEC in session, therefore, calls on the Government to redirect the ship of the nation by introducing sound economic measures, gag the corruption monster and provide jobs for the teeming youths to avert the total collapse of the country,” he said