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Unizik lecturers protest poor welfare, non payment of salary arrears

Tuesday Jul 02, 2024 18:25 pm

By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Awka,   Education

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, staged a peaceful protest against the Federal Government.

The protest was aimed at highlighting their dissatisfaction with neglected welfare, withheld salary arrears, and the lack of political will to adopt the Nimi Briggs Committee Report, which aligns with the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.

The protesting lecturers, led by ASUU-NAU chairperson Prof. Kingsley Ubaoji and ASUU Owerri Zone Coordinator Prof. Dennis Aribodor, listed several grievances. These include the need for funding to revitalize public universities as outlined in the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013, and the MoA of 2017; the release of 3½ months of withheld salaries; payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); release of unpaid staff salaries on sabbatical and adjunct positions affected by IPPIS; release of third-party deductions; implementation of UTAS instead of IPPIS; implementation of the Reports of the Visitation Panels; addressing the illegal dissolution of Governing Councils in Federal and State Universities; and the unchecked proliferation of public universities.

In a statement to newsmen, Prof. Ubaoji emphasized the need to review the salaries and allowances of Nigerian academics to reflect current realities, noting that it has been fourteen years since their last review, a situation he described as an undue punishment. "If the FGN sets its priorities right, all these issues could be resolved amicably without any industrial action.

However, the government's approach has been dismissive, which is unacceptable to our union," the statement read. Despite a recent meeting between the federal government and the union, Prof. Ubaoji stressed the need for concrete actions to resolve these lingering issues, which have significant implications for the Nigerian University System. "As a union, we are resolved to engage the media to raise public awareness about the government's failure to address these outstanding issues.

Our commitment remains steadfast in advocating for the rights and welfare of academic staff and the overall improvement of the Nigerian University System." Prof. Ubaoji also highlighted the recurring nature of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement in industrial actions since 2009, criticizing successive governments for their lack of seriousness in renegotiations. He noted that the Nimi Briggs Committee had produced a comprehensive document, but it had not been forwarded for presidential approval, leaving many of the committee's constructive recommendations unimplemented.

"Our brightest students are increasingly turning away from the teaching profession due to poor remuneration for lecturers. When we retire, who will teach our children?" Prof. Ubaoji questioned. The union is calling for the completion of renegotiations based on the Nimi Briggs Committee resolutions and urges the government to take immediate and decisive action to address these critical issues.

© Gabriel Chy Alonta Ikechukwu Ubaoji Ibenta Martin Emeka @highlight Nnamdi Azikiwe University Unizik Business School - UBS Unizik Faculty of Education Alumni

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