The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of state universities on Tuesday said state governments would not implement any agreement between the Federal Government and the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The committee’s Chairman, Yusuf Ali (SAN), disclosed this to one of our correspondents while commenting on the 35% increase for professors and 23.5% for other university workers, including lecturers.
Ali said this just as the President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, in an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday, rejected the pay rise proposed by the government.
The strike embarked upon by ASUU over demands including the revitalisation funds, opposition to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and insistence on the implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution developed by the union entered its 207th day on Wednesday.
At a meeting with vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors and chairmen of Governing Councils of federal universities in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said the Federal Government could only afford a 23.5% increase for university lecturers and 35% for professors.
He noted that any move to force state governments to follow the same agreement would lead to a “bastardisation of federalism.”
He explained that state universities run under different employers.
Ali said, “We held a conference and the resolutions will soon be made available and sent to all the governors. We are not part of the negotiations, so whatever negotiations the Federal Government makes with its employees will not be binding on state universities. They are our employees and that is part of the bastardisation of federalism.
“For instance, do policies made in your media house bind on other media houses? That is the way it is meant to be. The Federal Government has its employees and the states have theirs. The government may set a minimum standard and people may decide on whatever it is they want to do for their workers.
“Our position is that we are not bound by an agreement reached between the Federal Government and ASUU. They are dealing with their employees.”
The SSANU boss also said the union rejected the offer.
He said, “The government said it recommended a new salary table with the 23.5% increment. It is different from something approved. Our people asked for a 700% increment in line with the current economic reality in the country.
“We checked the last time salary was reviewed, it was 2009. We considered the dollar exchange rate, economy, inflation, and market value since then and now and we arrived at the 700% increment.
“When they told us, we humbly rejected it and told them they could do better because 23.5% will not make any significant improvement on our members. Look at the tax deductions, and pension contributions, if you add all these and subtract them from 23.5%, what will be left is 3%. We have replied the government that they can do better, we don’t want the 23.5 %”
Meanwhile, National President of the National Association of Academic Technologists, Ibeji Nwokoma, said the government had already given them a 23.5% increment, saying it was accepted in the interim.
“We agreed that if peradventure, ASUU didn’t suspend the strike and anything given in the upward of 23.5% will be across the board. We will resist everything that will bring disparity in salary. They told us if we called off our strike in August, they will implement it by September 1, 2022,” Nwokoma said.
Also reacting, a professor of African Traditional Religion and Director, School of Part-Time Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, said historically, whatever ASUU negotiated with the FG was usually implemented at state levels.
However, on its part, the Benue State Government also said state governments were not part of the decision.
The state Commissioner for Education, Sarwuan Tarnongo, said, “The Federal government is talking about its universities and state governments were not involved in negotiations.”
When asked to react to the new policy, the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Abayomi Arigbabu, said, “I don’t have any concrete document to that effect. We were just hearing it, there is no document or any confirmation to support that.”
Also, the ASUU chairman, Benue State University chapter, Dr Tarnongu Kwaghfan, said state governments, whether they like it or not, must implement any salary increment approved by the union and Federal Government.
Kwaghfan said any state government that desired to have universities must pay any agreed salary by the union and Federal Government.
Similarly, ASUU chairman, Kwara State University chapter, Dr Salau Sheu said, “Limiting the salary increment to only lecturers in federal universities will not only lead to an exodus of lecturers from state universities to federal universities but will also affect the quality of lecture and certificate that will be issued to students who graduated from state universities.”
The Chairman of ASUU at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Dr Biodun Faniran, said two representatives of state universities were on the team that negotiated the salary increase.