The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Abuja zone has decried the reoccurring cut in the personnel cost allocations to Federal Universities across the country.
Dr Theophilus Lagi, ASUU’s Abuja Zonal Coordinator, expressed the union’s displeasure while briefing newsmen shortly after the zonal meeting at Lapai, Niger State.
The Abuja zone comprises University of Abuja, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai and Federal University, Lafia.
The zonal coordinator said that the issue of shortfall in salaries of members across all Federal Universities which began in December, 2015, had become a pattern employed by the Federal Government to weaken workers unions.
“Salary is sacrosanct and payment of full salary -including all earned allowances- is the lubricant of the wheels of industrial harmony within the university establishment.
“ASUU insists that its members have rendered their duties in full, and as such, they should have their salaries and allowances paid in full and not in percentages or decimals.
‘’It is on this note that ASUU unequivocally demand an immediate restoration of releases of the full personnel costs including arrears thereof to all Federal Universities in Nigeria, in order to forestall the infliction of consequential damage to public university education in Nigeria,’’ Lagi said.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Finance and the budget agencies seemed not to understand how the university system worked hence the pay-cut.
Lagi said that the issue of salary shortfall was one of the reasons that necessitated the suspended one-week warning strike in November.
The ASUU zonal coordinator said the intervention of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, that ensured that an understanding was reached and some accumulated salary shortfalls were paid.
‘’One would have thought that the right thing to do was to sustain the temple and maintain the drive to clear all outstanding shortfalls.
“We expected that a mechanism would be put in place to forestall any future reoccurrence of any form of shortfalls; sadly, this was not done’’, he said.
Lagi regretted that Federal Universities in the Zone were in pathetic conditions.
He said that the personnel cost released by the Federal Government to the University of Abuja in January was a little above N359 million.
Lagi said the amount could only pay about 91 per cent of the salaries of staff in the University for that month.
The coordinator said, however, that in February, a little above N302 million was paid to the same university for the same purpose, when there was no reduction in the workforce at the University.
“This dipped the pay-cut further down; while the staff of University of Abuja received 81 per cent of their total salaries in February, their counterparts in the Federal University, Lafia received only 45 per cent of their total salaries for the same month of February.
“ At the Federal University of Technology, Minna, the story is also not different, as the University experienced over N21 million cut in salaries each for the months of January and February.” He said.
Lagi said that it was imprudent for the Federal Government to deliberately cut the salaries of academics and put in them in pains in the guise of recession.