Although the federal government recently reached another agreement with lecturers, the striking epidemic plaguing Nigerian universities is showing no sign of vanishing any time soon.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) downed tool since March over the government’s failure to honour a 2009 deal. The lecturers also wanted to be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
After months of impasse, Labour minister Chris Ngige, on Friday, agreed to increase the earned allowances for universities unions from N35 billion to N40 billion. The government also agreed to exempt ASUU from IPPIS, rasing hopes that the eight-month strike would soon end.
Even if it does any time soon, another strike may be on the horizon, and this time from non-academic employees of the universities and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU).
SSANU just asked the federal government to ensure a fair sharing of the N40 billion earned allowances approved for the universities unions.
It said the government should ensure that the money passed through the universities councils which it said had the template of the sharing formula.
SSANU president, Mohammed Ibrahim, said his union would resist the introduction of any other payment platform “except the one being conceived by the Joint Action Committee comprising SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU).”
This stands against ASUU’s preference for the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
SSANU also warned the government to be “wary of any group or union that would present any payment platform apart from IPPIS, which is the one recognised by the government to curb corruption within the system.”
Ibrahim said the government has no business sharing money to the unions as each university has a governing council which is the employer of all workers and the highest policy-making body of each university.
He said the university administration through the registry and bursary units has the responsibility of knowing who should earn what, and advised the government to channel whatever amount they are giving through the councils.
Ibrahim insisted that the government “must either do right and treat all unions equitably or be ready to face another round of industrial unrest in the university system.”
“We are ready to take the government head-on if an unjust disbursement of earned allowances is contemplated,” he said.
“The government should be ready to face the full wrath of SSANU and the outcome may be an eye-opener for those who have always underestimated SSANU and assume that the welfare of the non-teaching unions can be treated with levity at the expense of other categories of staff.
“I wish to tell people who think that way that they may be in for a shocker,” he said.