Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Benin chapter has carpeted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over a comment that lecturers who should have been busy researching a cure for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were at ‘home playing Ludo, draft and other games.’
The union’s reaction was contained in a press statement entitled “Re: Unscrupulous officiously and brazen violation of the laws of the land by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation”, signed by its Chairman, Monday Joy Omoregie and the secretary, Dr Fabian Chukwugozie Amaechina, made available to journalists in Benin.
‘It is important to briefly comment on the statement of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to the effect that “it is immoral and despicable for those who should be conducting research as Nigerians for the discovery of new drugs and medical equipment that will be used during COVID 19 period to say that they are at home playing Ludo and draft and other games.
‘We acknowledge that one of the cardinal duties of members of ASUU is research, the others are teaching and community service,’ he said.
Omoregie said the general public is aware of the contributions made by various branches of the union in the effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic and curtail its spread across the nation.
He said the willingness and preparedness of members of the union to conduct researches for the discovery of drugs and medical equipment have also been demonstrated by the production of automated hand-washing machines and respirators at the University of Benin, University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Jos and among others.
He said the Federal Government should provide ASUU with the needed funds for cutting edge research and that it will not be fair enough for its members to use their meagre salary to embark on research.
He faulted the claim by the Office of the Accountant-General (OAGF) of the Federation that ASUU as a body wants to evade tax through the IPPIS.
‘The reckless resort to blackmail and deliberate misinformation (in stating that the unions in the tertiary institutions have requested to “formalise tax evasion through IPPIS” and the further claim that their request is an “unpatriotic request to violate extant laws on tax” by the OAGF is most unethical and irresponsible of an office from which Nigerians expect the highest sense of decency, probity and sincerity,’ he said.