ASUU strike: FG’S proposal may decrease lecturers’ salaries

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The Federal Government proposal to lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities may lead to a reduction in the salaries of entry level lecturers under the graduate assistant cadre, investigations by Sunday PUNCH have revealed.

It was gathered that the Federal Government’s offer had been rejected by the majority of ASUU members, who had held their zonal congresses.

It was reported earlier that the union leaders met with the Emeritus Professor Nimi-Briggs committee last Tuesday.

ASUU’s President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, while refusing to go into details of the discussion with the government, however, described the proposal as a “miserable offer.”

ASUU had on Monday, February 14, 2022 announced the commencement of a strike due to what it described as “failure” on the part of the government to meet some of the lingering demands of the union.

The union had cited the failure of the government to release revitalisation funds for universities; non-release of earned allowances to lecturers; end the proliferation of universities by politicians and state governments; refusal to deploy the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of lecturers; and refusal to renegotiate the ASUU-FGN 2009 agreement as reasons for its present strike.

In a bid to resolve the strike and other contentious issues, the government had raised a panel led by the pro-chancellor of the Federal University Lokoja, Emeritus Prof Nimi-Briggs, to head its negotiation team with ASUU..

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, while briefing State House correspondent last Thursday, noted that the failure of the government to agree to the payment of six months arrears of salaries of the lecturers was stalling the strike’s call-off.

According to Adamu, ASUU insisted on its members receiving salaries for the period they have been on strike.

However, sources in the union, who confided in our correspondent and were privy to the negotiations, explained that ASUU refused to resume further talks because of “a Greek gift.”

One of the sources, who confided in one of our correspondents on Saturday, noted that while there would be a “meagre” increase in the salaries of professors, there would be a deduction in the take home pay of graduate assistants.

The source explained, “For graduate assistants, the government proposed N1m per annum for starters, while senior graduate assistants will get N1.2m per annum and by the time the necessary deductions will be made in terms of pension, tax and others, some of them may be going home with less than N90,000 monthly.

“At the moment, graduate assistants on step four earn N1,606,380, while they get N133,865.08 as gross monthly salary, and by the time you deduct N3,346.63 National Housing Fund contribution, N10,039.88 as pension and N8,555.83 as tax, the person goes home with N111,922.74.

“For junior professors, the government proposed that a total of N6m per annum, while a professor at bar will be earning N9m yearly. The professors at the bar are the senior professors from step 7 to 10.”

Another source, who is a member of ASUU NEC, confirmed the development to our correspondent.

The NEC member stated, “Yes, it is true; it is more like they removed money from junior lecturers and added the small change to senior ones.

“Now, with the new proposal, GA at the bar will earn N120,000 per month and when you apply deductions, you can imagine what the net will be.”

Commenting on the development, the Coordinator of the Port-Harcourt Zone, ASUU, Stanley Ogoun, said, “The current move by the Federal Government to jettison the principle of collective bargaining and reduce our union’s objective and patriotic struggle to revamp and reposition public universities in Nigeria to mere award of miserly salaries, ranging from N30,000 to N60,000, is unacceptable to us.”

Also, the branch Chairman, ASUU, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Dr Gbolahan Bolarin, said, “The plan is very simple; we are going the long haul. No retreat, no surrender.”

Meanwhile, the Education minister has said the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has invested an estimated N2.5tn in the tertiary education sector.

This was disclosed in a document made available to our correspondent in Abuja.

“The Buhari administration has invested in infrastructural development of the education sector more than any other administration in the history of this nation. It is on record that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund has invested an estimated N2.5tn in tertiary education, thereby exceeding the sum total of N1.2tn contained in the 2009 agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and we are still counting,” the document stated.

On why the government had not released the result of the visitation panel to universities, Adamu said, “We set up White Paper committees to make recommendations to the government on the reports of the visitation panels, which we received in 2022. Their reports were submitted this year and are being processed.”

One of the demands of ASUU is that the government release the White Paper reports of the visitation panels sent to the various universities across the country.

The strike by the union enters its 188th day today.

The affected students, parents and other stakeholders have continued to call on the government and ASUU to find a common ground for an end to the strike.

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