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University Workers Threaten FG With Fresh Strike Action Over N40bn Earned Allowance

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A category of university workers under the aegis of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has issued a 14-day warning to the federal government after which it will proceed on strike.

The workers’ union in a statement on Saturday by its National President, Ibeji Nwokoma while speaking with journalists in Abuja said the government needs to be specific on the percentage of earned allowance that is due to the union.

He stated that allocating 75% of the N40billion earned allowance approved by the federal government to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and just blanketly giving 25% to other unions without clear cut sharing formula is not acceptable.

Nwokoma added that the government should pay 50 percent of the N71 billion accrued allowances being owed members of the union based on the 2009 agreement with the government before they can return to work.

The NAAT President disclosed that their position has been communicated to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

In his words, “We have written to the government that NAAT as a body ought to have been given a specified percentage of the N40bn. You must define it; you can’t just say ASUU 75 percent and others 25 per cent. Let us know the specific percentage you are giving to NAAT as a union.

“In the MoU we entered with the government on November 18, in item number 2b, we demanded that in sharing the N40bn released, that government should clearly define what is going to be allocated to each union and government agreed to the genuineness of our demands and said NUC (National Universities Commission) and Federal Ministry of Education will work it out in conjunction with the union and what they have done negated completely the spirit of that MoU.”

Nwokoma noted that the 14 days ultimatum issued to the government started counting since 30th December 2020 when they wrote to the government.

He said, “We have given the government an ultimatum of 14 days. We wrote to government 30th December and we have given 14 working days and if at the end of the 14 working days our demands are not met, we resume our suspended strike.

“Definitely, we will close down the schools. If anybody thinks that ASUU has called off their strike and that schools will reopen, then let the person dare us. Let us know how effective or how possible it is for schools to reopen when technologists are on strike.”

On the 2009 agreement with the government, Nwokoma explained that fund for the rehabilitation of laboratories across public universities in Nigeria needs to be made available after several years of negligence.

“We demanded that the government should release N100bn because if you go to all the universities, you will discover that the laboratories are dilapidated. We asked the government to release N100bn to bring the laboratories to international standard and then release another N20bn every year for the next five years for the revamp of the laboratories,” he argued.

Naija News reports the nation’s public universities have been locked down since March 2020 over a face-off between the federal government and ASUU.

The ASUU strike was only suspended in December 2020 after the union and the government reached an agreement on issues which led to the 9-month strike.

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has however directed Vice-Chancellors of universities in Nigeria to stop the resumption of academic activities amid increasing COVID-19 cases.

The directive was signed by the Deputy Executive Secretary (Administration), Chris Maiyaki who stated in his circular that classrooms, hostel accommodation, conferences and seminars are to be put on hold.

Maiyaki directed the universities to remain closed and await further instructions.

Source: Naija News