From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has called on the federal and state governments to pay higher premium on quality higher education and increase subventions due to the sector in the interest of national growth and development.
The leadership of NASU and SSANU in the University of Ibadan made the call during a press conference that marked the end of a three-day warning protest staged against the Federal Government based on their 2009 agreements, as a precursor to a full blown industrial action, if the demands are not properly addressed.
The press conferebce, which was held at the SSANU office, UI, was addressed by the SSANU chairman in UI, Mr. Wale Akinremi.
He listed the issues that made members of the groups to stage the protest to include Earned Allowances(EA), non-payment of arrears of minimum wage, non-payment of retirement benefits, neglect and poor funding of state universities, inconsistencies in IPPIS payment, delay in renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement and usurpation of headship of non-teaching positions by academic staff.
Akinremi stated: “It is important at this juncture, having taken all gentlemanly means to let the general public and distinguished Nigerian workforce come to terms with the demands of NASU and SSANU from the Federal Government. It is also appropriate to note some of the issues in contention have been at the table of the Federal Government and it’s agents for over half a decade ago.
“These issues or demands, based on the insensitivity and insincerity of government, have caused unnecessary disruptions in the academic calendar of the ivory towers in the country. One would notice the great strides being recorded by advanced countries in technology and other areas of human endeavours, and expect that the government woukd take education seriously, particularly that Nigeria was a signatory to the 26 per cent allotment to education under the United Nations Convention.
“According to the Agreement signed in 2009 with the Federal Government by NASU and SSANU, the provisions of the agreement we’re supposed to be reviewed every three years. Several attempts were made by the unions in the light of global down-swing of economies and debilitating challenges facing staffers and general activities of the university system to have the agreement reviewed, but these efforts were rebuffed.
“At the moment, feeble attempts have been initiated by the Federal Government to commence renegotiation of the agreement. It is, however, rather unfortunate that the efforts have flawed by unwholesome mind-sets, sentiments, insincerity and so on.
“Consequently, we appeal to the Federal Government and its officials not to play politics with the fortune of the university system, prosperity and the general well-being of the Nigerian nation. Issues should be allowed to be discussed or considered dispassionately in the general interest of all.”