. by Our Correspondent
BAYELSA STATE: The University of Africa, Toru-Orua, in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa State whose ownership is not distinctively clear is alleged to be in a ‘tug of war’ with a set of employees that are said not to have received their full salaries several months after their engagement.
The non payment of salary, according to an impeccable source affected about 35 employees, both academic and non- academic staff.
The source further informed Boch News that the few that were paid amongst the newly engaged staff are allegedly being paid due to connections and political inclinations.
An affected employee who craved not to be mentioned ,disclosed that the problem arose because the set of employees were employed based on a verbal approval by the immediate past governor, Seriake Dickson.
It further revealed that the institution’s management had appealed to the former governor to approve the engagement of additional staff in order to increase the staff strength of the school as it was said to be understaffed, especially, academic staff.
A request the then Governor Dickson, was said to have given approval though, without making provisions for extra funds to accommodate the new employees and associated challenges.
The source further stated that the institution initially had a little more than 100 employees, but currently has up to 300 , yet the initial monthly subvention to the school has not been reviewed upward till the time of filing this report.
Boch News further gathered that the condition of the workers got worsened because they do not have any other sources of income, as a result of the conditions given to them before their engagement that; they should terminate their previous employments, adding that without salaries for several months, the employees have been subjected to untold hardship.
Our source, who lamented that the school had not made tangible efforts to pay the employees despite several promises, called on management to proffer solution and commence payment of salaries and arrears.
It is further learnt that the workers are questioning the wisdom of the school to engage expatriates that are being paid in millions, while the indigenous workers are left without salaries.
According to the source, the school has employed over 20 expatriates, spends millions of naira on them. Where as, the new employees with PhD are being paid between 150,000 to 160,000, yet, they are not been paid fully. It added that money spent on two expatriates can cover the 35 new employees.
Our investigation however revealed that to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the non payment of salaries of the affected employees, management paid 50% of three months salaries.
When reportedly contacted by a sister medium, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Kingston Nyamapfene, acknowledged the non payment of the full salaries of the newly engaged employees, but said that the university is under funded by government.
Professor Nyamapfeene disclosed that the school has written severally to government for an upward review of the subvention to help take care of the new employees.
He further stated that to show the concern management has for the employees, they sourced for money to pay 50% of salaries of three months.
He explained, “Sitting down with the rest of management team, I said let’s find a way to make palliatives available so that we can alleviate what these people are going through. So we took money from where we were not supposed to pay these people 50% of their salaries for three months”
On the issue expatriates, he said that the concept is to internationalize the school for students all over the world to attend.
“The money that is given to expatriates, the previous governor created a special initiative because of the internationalization that we were talking about. If your school is not internationalized, if you don’t have international standard, international faculties and international people in your system, how do you attract international students?
The Vice Chancellor, who insisted that expatriates are being paid less than what they were earning at their previous places of employment, added that the school uses the scale of public universities to pay its staff like any other in Nigeria.
“There was a time people were saying to us that your salaries are lower than Niger Delta University (NDU). We had this conversation two weeks ago, we called the Registrar from NDU and we sat and made comparison and the things that people were saying, it was only one small element. That is because these people do not have housing, they were given allowance. We have accommodation for staff here. We also provide a three and half hours of electricity everyday, which nobody is paying.”
He emphasized that the school for now does not have money to pay the workers.