By G9ija

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) yesterday began a three-day nationwide protest.

This followed an earlier statement by NASU General Secretary Peters Adeyemi and SSANU President Mohammed Ibrahim directing all members in branches of universities and inter-university centres across the nation to embark on strike.

Our correspondents monitored the protest at various universities across the country.  At the University of Lagos (UNILAG), members of both unions and other university workers occupied the main gate of the campus.

The members were protesting alleged irregularities in Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) payments, non-payment of Earned Allowances and minimum wage arrears, among others.

The union members also said they were protesting the sharing formula of the N70 billion given the universities by the Federal Government.

The Acting Chairman of SSANU at the UNILAG branch, Mr. Olusola Sowunmi, explained that the 75 per cent and 25 per cent sharing formula for the earned allowances did not favour their members.  He also said the unions lost 10 members due to non-payment of salary.   NASU Chairman at UNILAG, Mr. Kehinde Ajibade, said the unions had notified the institution before embarking on the protest.

He said the protest followed the failure of government to accede to their demands.

These include the delay in the renegotiation of FGN, NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement, non-payment of retirement benefits of outgone members, neglect and poor funding of state universities, among others.

At the Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta (FUNAAB), the unions began a three–day warning strike to back their demands.

The members, who carried placards with various inscriptions, marched from their secretariat round the campus, chanting solidarity songs to proclaim their grievances, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.  Some of the inscriptions read: “Stop depriving us of our legitimate entitlements”, “We say no to academic headship of non-teaching units” and “Pay us our earned allowances,” among others.

Addressing reporters, a union leader, Mr. Rotimi Fasunwon, regretted that after several agreements with the Federal Government, it had refused to accede to their demands.

“If they want peace in the university and want students to resume, let them implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“This three days protest in the university is just the beginning and if we see that government is not doing its part, then we might go for a full-fledged strike action,” Fasunwon added.

At Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) in Abia State, JAC Chairman Ken Njoku said the action was aimed at reminding the government of the need to implement the MoU signed with the union on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, with Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige.

He said the issues in the MoU include the inconsistencies in the IPPIS, non-payment of earned allowances and arrears of minimum page.  At the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), the JAC joined the protest.

They carried placards with different inscriptions, such as: “Release our N30 billion earned allowance now,”; ”Pay us our minimum wage arrears”; “Stop usurpation of headships of non-teaching units by teaching staff”; “Pay retirement benefits of our outgone members”; “Enough is enough! Don’t kill education in Nigeria”; “No to 75: 25 per cent sharing formula” and “Correct irregularities with IPPIS now.”

Addressing reporters in Ilorin, SSANU Chairman at the university, Oyedepo Joseph, explained that the government had refused to honour the agreements it reached with the unions, which led to the suspension of last year’s strike.

The union members at the University of Abuja (UniAbuja) alos joined the protest.

The institution’s SSANU President Mohammed Ibrahim said: “We have also ensured that in every branch, there are monitoring teams to ensure that the protest is effective and offices are closed for the next three days so that members of the university management will know that our rights are being trampled upon by the powers that be.”

Hundreds of the unions’ members converged on the Senate building of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) yesterday for the protest.

SSANU Chairman, Dr. Haruna Aliyu, addressed the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sagir Adamu Abbas, and other principal officers.

He said the protest was peacefully conducted under the directive given by the national JAC of both unions.