Christiana Gokyo, Jos
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike, if the federal government of Nigeria failed to adhere to the balance of N8 billion earned allowances.
The Union is also demanding for the immediate release of memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed in 2009, and to also reinstate all disengaged staff school workers in line with the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Chairperson of SSANU University of Jos Branch, Comrade Esther Ezeama, made their position known on Monday during a peaceful protest held at the Union’s Secretariat located at the Naraguta campus in Jos the Plateau state capital.
According to her, “We signed an agreement with the federal government of Nigeria in 2009, and up till now, government is yet to honour that agreement. In 2017, we signed an M.O.A. (Memorandum Of Action) and N8 billion was approved as part of the earned allowance for the non-teaching Nigerian workers, but up till now, we are only hearing stories.
“The government is sleeping on it and is not giving us any concrete reasons why that money is not paid. In the 2019 agreement, the issue of staff school came up; an agreement was signed, but they later decided that staff school is no longer part of the university because it is a staff school and the federal government has been paying their salaries until 2016.
“Most Universities have disengaged their members. We went to the National Industrial Court, which gave an order for them to be reinstated, but the federal government is saying it has to gain an interpretation to that court order.”
Ezeama lamented that, “So many people have died because of lack of reinstatement and immediate payments of their entitlements; some lost their relations, some are sick and have no money to take care of themselves.
“The federal government must do something very urgent. Why is it that when court gives a judgment, the federal government refuses to adhere to that? Does it mean that the government is above the law?
“Our N8 billion is still hanging, we have gone on strike for 3 months, we came back and we were given assurance but up to now, we have not seen anything!
“We were told that the Accountant-General is where the problem is, and this is the 3rd month and we have not heard anything even with the templates they requested,” she stated.
The chairperson added, “The federal government must keep to her words. In the 2019 agreement, the issue of funding of the universities for its infrastructural development was researched. They have promised that some money will be coming into the coffers of Universities, but it’s only once some of the money was released.
“We know that our sister union (ASUU) is also on strike for that, and if we go on strike, it is not going to go well with the educational sector in Nigeria, and we are saying that after 3 days of these peaceful protest, if the federal government fails to attend to us, we will be taking the next step,” Ezeama stated.
Secretary of the Union, Comrade Anthony Joro, commended the Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. Sebastian Maimako, for adhering to the court judgment by reinstating all disengaged staff school workers, but maintained that most other universities are yet to comply with the directives of the National Industrial Court.