The Academic Staff Union of Universities, on Saturday, warned the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, to stop victimising its members over their involvement during the last strike, saying the union would no longer tolerate such “unpatriotic practices.”
The Chairman of the union at the University of Jos, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, in a statement on Saturday, said, “ASUU wants to bring to the attention of the Nigerian public the deliberate, systematic and unpatriotic actions of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, on the future of education in Nigeria.
“Mr Ahmed Idris, for all intents and purposes, is bent on withholding the salaries of over 1,000 members of ASUU spread across the country with more than 100 of such lecturers being members of our branch in University of Jos.
“Mr Ahmed Idris, as it were, wants to preside over the consecutive burial of these ASUU members and their families for participating in the last strike.
“More worrisome is the fact that, while the AGF is refusing to pay these salaries, his staff in the OAGF are busy calling the affected lecturers and insisting they have to register with IPPIS before they are paid; some are even asked to forfeit parts of their salaries in order to be paid.”
Maigoro noted that the action of the AGF was in total violation of the memorandum of action the Federal Government entered into with the union before it suspended its strike in December 2020.
He stated that apart from the refusal to pay the salaries of ASUU members, the lack of payment of allowances of sabbatical, visiting, part-time and contract staff was further killing federal universities because the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System payment platform “does not recognise these categories of staff.”
The ASUU chairman noted that this had led to the withdrawal of their services, describing the action against the academic staff as an “evil war orchestrated by the AGF.”
He added, “Some departments are closing down and some new departments in some new federal universities cannot take off because of lack of manpower. In the end, it is the children of all Nigerians in these universities that are suffering and not just ASUU members.
“In addition, third party deductions like union dues have not been appropriately remitted over the past 13 months. It must be mentioned here that the labour laws clearly state that all third-party deductions must be remitted within 48 hours of deduction.
“But I can authoritatively say that over N8m is deducted as union dues from our members’ salaries in the University of Jos every month from February 2020 to date. Sadly, what is remitted sometimes is N32,000, N66,000, N103,000, N114,000, etc., and some other months, nothing at all is remitted.”
Maigoro described the non-remittance as “a criminal act perpetrated by a public officer.”
He said, “The union views this refusal to remit deducted check-off dues by the AGF as a deliberate attempt at preventing the union from being able to assist those of its members whose salaries have been unduly and illegally withheld, thereby forcing them to submit to the underhanded tactics of the OAGF and IPPIS.
“This we believe is also aimed at deliberately frustrating the implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, the sophisticated payment platform developed by ASUU and accepted by FGN for implementation.”
The ASUU chairman expressed the union’s hope that whatever decision it took would not be misconstrued by the Nigerian public.
“While our leaders have prevailed on us to await the outcome of their engagement with the Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, we are sorry to report that, at our branch, we cannot wait any further as our members are going through very harsh conditions. We call on the Chief of Staff to act quickly to save his name by calling to order those breaching the MoA.
“It is also clear to us that Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, has only one interest, an opportunity for photo ops and to pretend he has ‘apprehended’ industrial disputes. He has demonstrably failed to follow up on these issues and ensure the survival of our MoA.”