As the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, suspended its nine-month old strike, yesterday, hope of normalcy returning to the ivory towers, may have been dashed, as non-teaching staff in the universities have vowed not to go back to work if the Federal Government does not correct the alleged imbalance in the sharing formula of the about N40 billion earned allowances.
The unions are – the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, (SSANU); Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
They accused the government of allocating about 75 per cent of the N40 billion EAA to ASUU, leaving the three other unions with only 25 per cent to share among their members.
The unions said they will not resume in January when universities reopen unless the Federal Government corrected the “imbalance.”
Reacting to the sharing formula, National President of NAAT, Mr Ibeji Nwokomma said anyone thinking that non-teaching staff unions in the universities will resume with the recent development is day-dreaming, except the government corrects the imbalance.
His words: “My union is rejecting the sharing formula of the Earned Allowances as it is being done presently by the government. Government has allocated 75 per cent of the money to ASUU and 25 per cent to all other non-teaching unions in the universities. That is grossly inadequate.
“That is robbing Peter to pay Paul and using divide and rule in the university system. No union, not even ASUU has the monopoly of opening or closing of schools through strike, other unions also have the capacity to ensure that the system does not work.
“Secondly, NAAT, ASUU and other unions negotiated with government, so payment of earned allowances will be based on unions, it should be on the basis of the 2009 Agreement; that is where the Earned Allowances is derived from.
“So, lumping my union with other non-teaching staff is neither here nor there and totally unacceptable to us.
“We had an MoU with government, just signed on November 15, 2020, which says that government should clearly define what is supposed to go to each union and government agreed that it was going to do that and today they just shared the money anyhow they wanted without adhering to the MoU we had with government.
“My union is asking that our own earned allowances should be specified; whatever it is should be specified just like they did to ASUU.
“If nothing is done, we will close down the system until we are fairly treated.
“Government should convene a meeting immediately to settle this issue; otherwise, anyone thinking that schools will reopen, is just wasting his/her time, schools will not reopen until these issues are adequately taken care of.”
He said that he is making efforts to get in touch with the Director and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education to draw the attention of government to the brewing crisis.
Also speaking, National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim said that his union would not take the lopsided sharing formula.
He said: “Honestly, I believe that this remains a rumour even though I know it could be true, I have seen 75 per cent and 25 per cent.
“But if it is true, we have stated in no uncertain terms that we will not take this kind of lopsided allocations again. What is the scientific measurement used to give out this money? We have stated before now that the least we can take is 50-50, they are not more in numbers.
“Even if they want to do something like that, maybe this is my own personal opinion now, I may not insist on 50-50 but at least something reasonable. We have the numbers.
“If they give, for example 60-40, do you think the noise will be there? Government does not want peace. If it is giving 75 per cent to only one union and giving 25 per cent to three unions, does it make sense?
“Certainly, my members are more than willing to down tools if this becomes a reality.”