From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have threatened that the two unions would ground all the universities in the country if the Federal Government fails to give them N40 billion based on their agreements, as well as other demands.
The JAC of the two unions made the announcement on Tuesday as they commenced on a three-day warning nationwide protest in response to the alleged Federal Government’s failure to address any of the issues contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) both parties had reached and signed in the previous years.
In the University of Ibadan, the JAC of the two unions converged on the main gate of the institution and matched to the front of the Administrative Block, which houses the offices of the Vice-Chancellor.
The protest was led by the SSANU’s National Vice-President, Western Zone, Mr Alfred Jimoh, and the NASU Secretary, UI, Mr Sunday Akinpelu.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions that captured the demands of the two unions. Some of the inscriptions said: “JAC-SSANU/NASU says no to non-constitution of visitation panels for universities”, “JAC-SSANU/NASU says no to inconsistencies in the IPPIS payment, nonpayment of Earned Allowance (EA), non-payment of arrears of minimum wage”, “We reject teaching staff usurping of non-teaching headships of non-teaching units in clear violation of conditions of service and establishment procedures”, “JAC-SSANU/NASU says no to non-payment of retirement benefits of our outgone members of staff, neglect and poor funding of state universities”, and “JAC-SSANU/NASU says no to renegotiating of FG/NASU and SSANU 2009 agreements”.
Speaking at the occasion, Jimoh stated: ‘We want to place it on record that the FG has been behaving as if ASUU, with due respect to them, are the only one that needed to be attended to in the Nigerian university system, and that as long as they satisfied their demands, then others can go and jump into the lagoon. I want to place it on record that unless the people in government or in management in UI and all other universities, know that if the approach of satisfying the ASUU alone is what the Federal Government wants to adopt, and said the rest should go and jump into the lake if there is any peace at all in the Nigerian university system, it will be a peace of the graveyard.
‘The signal we are sending to the Federal Government through this protest is that they can go ahead and do what they want to do with ASUU. If you like, you can take the whole of the N40billion and give it to ASUU, and say the rest of us should go and jump into the lake, if you do that and you have any peace in the university system, it will be a peace of the graveyard.
‘We will see how anybody will run the university system without attending to us. It is either you give us our N40 billion and give ASUU their own N40 billion, then we will have peace in the university system. If you fail to do that one and say ASUU should take N40 billion or N75 billion, and you do what you like to the non-teaching staff, go ahead, we will meet. We will see how they will access laboratories without us. We want to see how they will access classrooms without us.’
The NASU Secretary, UI, Akinpelu, addressing the protesters, said: ‘We have been pushed to the wall and we are ready to face anybody; come rain, come sunshine. We are ready to face the Federal Government. Enough is enough. How can you say you cherish one child more than the other children? Minimum Wage has been pending and has not been paid. Also, Earned Allowance has been pending and unpaid. We will not take it from the Federal Government again. Teaching staff are occupying positions meant for non-teaching staff in clear violation of our rights. We are ready to take over what belongs to us and our rights.
‘The Federal Government has not been sincere to us – the JAC of these unions. Is it because we have been so good and lenient with the Federal Government? Our negotiation ended in 2009 and we have our agreement that every three years, the negotiation would be renewed.’