By Bimbola Oyesola
There is a fresh threat to the long-awaited resumption of university students as university workers under the umbrella of National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have issued a 14-day industrial action notice to the Federal Government over the disparity in allocation of N40 billion earned allowance.
The NAAT members vowed to go on strike if Federal Government failed to attend to their demands and resolve their grievances.
The union is protesting the disparity in sharing of the N40 billion earned allowance released to the four university-based unions, which include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and NAAT.
Both SSANU and NAAT have also rejected the sharing formulas and threatened last week to embark of an indefinite strike if the Federal Government continue to give the largest chunk of the money to ASUU at the expense of the three other non-teaching unions.
NAAT is also demanding the release of 50 percent of the N71 billion accrued allowance being owed its members from the 2009 agreement reached between the government and the union.
President of NAAT, Ibeji Nwokoma, told journalists yesterday that the Union has written the minister of labour and employment informing him of their planned industrial action.
“We have written to the government that NAAT as a body ought to have been given a specified percentage of the N40 billion. You must define it. You can’t just say ASUU 75 percent and others 25 percent. Let us know the specific percentage you are giving to NAAT as a union,” he said.
He explained that in the MoU entered with the government on November 18, in item number 2b, the union demanded that in sharing of the N40 billion released, government should clearly define what is going to be allocated to each union and government agreed to the genuineness of their demands, noting that NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education will work it out in conjunction with the union.
“What they have done negates completely the spirit of that MoU. We have given government ultimatum of 14 days. We wrote to the government on December 30. We have given government 14 working days and if at the end of the 14 working days our demands are not met, we resume our suspended strike. Definitely, we will close down the schools. If anybody thinks that ASUU has called off the strike and that schools will reopen, then let the person dare us. Let us know how effective or how possible it is for schools to reopen when technologists are on strike.
“If government on its own has said ASUU should take N30 billion from the N40 billion released, it is not the business of my union. But we have also told the government that the arrears accruable to my union since 2009 to 2020, they have paid up to 2012, is N71 billion and we have demanded 50 per cent of that amount and we have also given government ultimatum of 14 days if the government fails to do that, we will call out our members on strike. Nobody has a monopoly of closing or opening of Universities by the strike. We have said that repeatedly.”
He lamented that the 2009 agreement has not been fully implemented, even when it ought to have been renegotiated. He said it was supposed to have been renegotiated after three years negotiation.