From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Lateef Dada, Osogbo
In spite of objections from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the pro-rata October salary payment, the Federal Government has reaffirmed that the lecturers would not be paid for work they had not done.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated this while responding to questions from State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
Responding to the allegation by the President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodoke, suggesting that paying the lecturers on pro-rata basis was a ploy to make them casual workers, Adamu said: “Nobody can make university lecturers casual workers.”
The union had called off its eight-month strike in October after the National Industrial Court ordered the lecturers to resume.
Adamu said, “the strike has been called off and the government has paid them what is due to them. I think that’s the position of the government; that it is not going to pay anyone for work not done and they only did, I think, the number of days that they were paid.
“How can anybody make a university lecturer a casual… Do you know the meaning of casual worker? If you know the meaning of the casual worker, it is impossible to make a university lecturer a casual worker”, he said.
Asked if the Federal Government would be willing to take steps to assuage ASUU and stave off further hostilities, he replied: “I don’t understand, is there any problem now?”
Told they planned work-free-day, he said “Oh? Okay, I’m not aware. I’m not aware. That they are going on strike? No, nobody has told me. So let’s wait till the work-free-day comes, then I’ll find out the details and we’ll discuss, you can ask me then, but at the moment, I’m telling you honestly, I do not know that there is a problem”, he said.
On claim by Professor Osodoke that the union only had an agreement with him and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, not with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Adamu said: “I cannot add any light on something that I did not know. And since they said they have no business with the Minister of … Did they show you the agreement? Well, I’m not aware that there’s any agreement between us,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar and Wale Babalakin SAN, yesterday, decried the incessant strike by ASUU, noting that it was having a bad effect on the education of the students.
They noted that philanthropists should support the funding of tertiary institutions as government cannot singlehandedly fund tertiary institutions.
They spoke at Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun State, during the commissioning of the Bola Babalakin Guest House donated by the family of the late retired justice of the Supreme Court to the institution.
According to Babalakin, “for any discerning person in the education sector, it is clear that government at all levels, as structured today, cannot singlehandedly fund education. The resources required to fund a proper education system are simply not there or are not easily available. For this reason, educational institutions, especially tertiary institutions, must continue to find ways of generating revenue from sources that will not detract from their primary the goal of providing a very good education for the students.”
He said the guest house donated by his family would provide accommodation for visiting scholars and friends of the university and also generate income for it.
The Sultan maintained that strike was not the best solution to the problem of education, saying negotiation should be employed instead of subjecting students to the psychological and emotional trauma they have undergone in the last eight months.
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, commended Babalakin’s family and advised beneficiaries of the project to ensure prompt and adequate maintenance of the facility such that it would attract other donors to want to do more.