ASUU Raises Alarm Over Salary Withholdings

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has sounded the alarm over what it describes as the dire situation facing its members due to what it terms the “pauperisation” of the academia by the Nigerian government. In a statement issued after its National Executive Council meeting, ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke highlighted the plight of lecturers, many of whom, the union claims, have either died or are facing critical health challenges.

According to ASUU, the root cause of these challenges lies in the failure of the government, both at the federal and state levels, to adequately support the academic sector. One of the key grievances cited by the union is the stagnation of salaries since 2009, despite the steep depreciation of the Nigerian currency. As a result, an average professor now reportedly earns the equivalent of a mere $210 per month.

The situation has been exacerbated by what ASUU describes as a poor working environment, inadequate conditions of service, and heavy workload pressure caused by the departure of many lecturers seeking better opportunities abroad. The union accuses the government, led by President Bola Tinubu, of reneging on promises to address these issues, including releasing withheld salaries and exempting universities from the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Furthermore, ASUU alleges continuous encroachment on the autonomy of public universities, citing the illegal dissolution of governing councils as a prime example. The union warns that failure to address these grievances could lead to unrest on university campuses across the country.

In response to ASUU’s claims, the government has defended its actions, stating that efforts are underway to address the concerns raised by the union. However, ASUU remains skeptical, pointing to a history of unfulfilled promises and stalled negotiations.

Meanwhile, another potential source of tension looms as the Federal Government plans to pay ASUU four months of withheld salaries, excluding other university-based unions. This move has sparked outcry from the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU). In a letter to the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajiabiamila, SSANU and NASU expressed their dissatisfaction with the exclusion, warning of possible disruptions to the academic calendar if their members’ grievances are not addressed.

As the standoff between ASUU and the government continues, the fate of Nigeria’s higher education sector hangs in the balance. With issues of salary arrears, autonomy, and fairness at the forefront, stakeholders must find a resolution to prevent further escalation and ensure the stability of the country’s universities.

Read Also: ASUU Strike: Navigating Educational Disruptions

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