A fresh strike by university lecturers seems to be looming after the Academic Staff Union Of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) threatened on Saturday to down tools over the alleged refusal of the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the salaries and remit the check-off dues of over 1000 staff for 13 months.
The Chairman of the University of Jos branch of ASUU, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, dropped a hint of the fresh strike in a statement in Jos.
He accused the AGF of fanning the ember of discord between the federal government and ASUU, which he said is capable of triggering a strike action.
Corroborating Maigoro in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents yesterday, ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke said: “As we speak, they are still owing many of our members in many of the branches between two to 16 months salaries without pay by the Accountant-General’s office.
“As we speak, they are using that (alleged withholding of salaries) to blackmail our members to enroll into the IPPIS. There are lecturers that they will pay this month, after one or two months they will stop, and all sorts of funny things.
“We have met with the minister of labour and employment. We even cascaded it to the level of the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, but they (OAGF’s office) seem to be adamant about punishing our members.
“On the issue of the next line of action, our union has a procedure. When it is time, we know what to do. There is a procedure for embarking on a strike and the union will follow that procedure.”
Asked if the union had made any attempt to meet with officials from the OAGF, Prof Osodeke said: “We have our principle of engagement with government.
“The agreement we reached in December was brokered by the Minister of Labour and Employment, and we also agreed to meet from time to time to look at the issues.
“We met in May and raised all these issues with the Accountant-General’s Office present at that meeting.
“They tried to deny the fact that anybody was owed. And we were able to prove with available data that they were lying and they accepted and agreed to implement.
“If any of our members enroll in IPPIS today, they (OAGF) will pay you the next day, which means that what they are doing is deliberate.
“We have sent the data of our members to them more than four to five times – complete data. They will request for one today we will send to them, and the next month our members will still not be paid.
Read Also: ASUU Embarks On Indefinite Strike
“But if any of our members decide to register, they will pay all their arrears. It is a deliberate attempt. They know the situation.
“They even came last month to request for data and we also sent it to them. As we speak, more than a thousand of our members are still being owed 16 months.
“The bursars of each university have sent their documentation and all the corrections to the office of the Accountant-General, yet they are not paying our members. It is a gimmick.
“What they are trying to do is to see how they can blackmail our members by using hunger as a weapon to get them to register on IPPIS.
“It is very unfortunate that they are trying to kill the university system. They are trying to downgrade our university system because of personal reasons, and I think it is wrong.
“We will meet, get reports from all our branches, get all the available data and the union will take the next action.
“We will follow the process, but we are still relating with the government to see if they can direct the Accountant-General to do what is correct and not what pleases them.”
Members of ASUU recently resumed work after a prolonged strike caused by a dispute with the federal government.
The ‘indefinite strike’, which commenced in March last year, arose from the union’s rejection of what it called the use of force on its members to enroll on Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS), a payroll software mandated for all public officials.