From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The federal government has dismissed media reports, alleging bias in the payment of salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria (ASUU).
It also debunked claims by ASUU that their members were paid half their salary for the month of October.
In a statement, at the weekend, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, described both reports as a grossly inaccurate, misleading and barefaced distortion of facts, pointing out that members of ASUU were paid their October salary pro-rata, and not half salary as the media widely reported.
According to the ministry, pro-rata was done because they cannot be paid for work not done.
The statement further clarified that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, never directed the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the university lecturers half salary.
The statement reads in part, “Following the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), asking ASUU to go back to work, the leadership of the union wrote to the Minister, informing him that they have suspended the strike. The Federal Ministry of Education wrote to him in a similar vein and our labour inspectors in various states also confirmed that they have resumed work.
“So, the Minister wrote to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, directing that their salaries should be restored. They were paid in pro rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action. Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied. ”
The ministry equally faulted a statement by the Chairperson of ASUU, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) branch, Muhammad N. Al-Mustapha, accusing the Ngige, of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of the union.
“Those obviously being referred to by the UDUS ASUU chairperson were members of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association (MDCAN) who abstained from the eight-month strike of ASUU because they abhorred the incessant strikes by the union and its grave effects on medical education in Nigeria and production of more medical doctors.
“Accusing the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of ASUU, is a barefaced distortion of facts. Mustapha said he received information that a segment of the staff in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) has been paid seven months of their withheld salaries from March to September, due to a letter written to the Minister of Finance, instructing the exemption of the under-listed staff on the application of ‘No Work, No Pay’ rule
“To set the records straight, the medical lecturers who are being referred to by the Chairperson of the ASUU UDUS branch, abstained from the eight-month strike of ASUU. This has been corroborated in a press statement by the Chairman, MDCAN UdUS, Dr B. Jubrin and Secretary, Dr I. G Ango, on Friday, November 4, 2022.”
Consequently, the ministry dismissed the accusation of selective treatment in the payment of salaries to ASUU members, urging the media to cross-check their facts to avoid feeding the public with the wrong information.