by Pearl Harold
Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASSU) Niger Delta University(NDU) chapter, has called on Bayelsa State Government to resolve pending issues with the union to avert another industrial action immediately after the national strike is called off.
ASUU made the call at a press conference held on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at the Conference Hall of the Faculty of Law campus, NDU, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
A statement signed by the Chairman of ASUU NDU chapter, Dr Tonbara Kingdom and Secretary, Dr Ebi Baraka, said the union had written several letters to the state government on issues bordering on poor funding and staff welfare, but had not got any response.
The statement said, “We use this medium to call on the Bayelsa State Government to quickly resolve the pending and nagging issues of poor funding and staff welfare for the Niger Delta University to avert industrial crisis immediately the national ASUU strike is suspended. We have written severally to the State Government and we have not gotten any response. The earlier they do this, the better for everyone”.
While responding to a question on the issue of poor funding of the university, Dr Tonbara stated that the institution has been placed on subvention since 2018, saying, only about 6000 out the 20000 students of the school pay school fees, hence, not adequate to run the school and that Management borrows money to pay salaries of pensioners and other staff of the university monthly.
He revealed that most of the projects in the University were sponsored by TETFUND.
Issues of misunderstanding, amongst others, he said, were, that there has not been increment of their salaries since 2009, adding that they did not benefit from the new minimum wage, promotion and annual increments.
Speaking of the ongoing national strike by ASUU , the union accused the federal government of insincerity and deceitfulness in honouring its obligations, saying, after agreeing on the issues contained in the 7th February,2019 memorandum of Action (MOA) , the government reneged in all aspects.
According to the statement, ASUU was forced to embark on strike for eight months running in order to make government satisfactorily address issues of Revitalization Fund for public Universities, arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), visitation to universities, proliferation of state universities etc.
The union stated, “the issues raised in the 2019 MoA and all previous MoUs are very integral to the continued survival of the public university system. The bottom line in the persistent struggles of our union is about ensuring a guaranteed access to university education by the average Nigerian.
ASUU, which insisted that their action was not borne out of selfishness, noted that Nigerians have bought into the propaganda of the government about the selfishness of the union.
It said, “We make bold to declare that ours is the only union that allows the pursuit of the welfare of her members to play second fiddle. The plank of our demand is centered on improved funding to provide the physical and instructional resources required to enhance learning, in keeping with the population growth rate and the pursuit of comparability with global standard s for university education.”
ASUU also asserted that the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was to divert attention from the main issues in the 2019 MOA in disregard to extant laws establishing universities.
“In the light of this, ours should be christened a dictatorial democracy. The IPPIS is a slide into autocracy, complete disregard to the laws of the land” ASUU declared.
The lecturers also questioned the proprietary of storing the entire data base of the workforce in a foreign country.
It also asked, ” Where is the place of local content development as it applies to the refusal of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to accept the University Transparency and Accountability System (UTAS) as a home grown product for managing the University financials in a transparent manner, when IPPIS is fraught with several shortcomings?”
ASUU equally expressed disappointment over the comments of the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Minister’s utterances were capable of worsening the already heated crisis.
ASUU further said,
“His claim that he has several options in dealing with the situation at his disposal is surprising. Which other option will be worse than the hunger they have unleashed on our members in the federal universities, by not paying them salaries?”
The union advised government not to use the excuse of testing UTAS as an excuse to force members to register with IPPIS before salaries will be paid.
“Please, use the GIFMIS platform that was being used before now.”