Reps urge SSANU, NASU to halt planned nationwide industrial action 

The House of Representatives on Thursday urged Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and other associated institutions to halt the planned nationwide industrial action in order not to disrupt the nation’s academic calendar.

The House also tasked the Federal Government to release the Earned Allowance of non-teaching staff accrued between 2009 and 2016, urging it to audit university Earned Allowance to ascertain to what was paid, to whom and the balance.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the three unions had demanded immediate payment of a total sum of N30 billion and the implementation of Court judgment on staff school salaries.

The university workers also kicked against the decision of Federal Ministry of Education via a memo signed by the Director of Tertiary Education, which allocated 80 per cent of the approved money to ASUU and only 20 per cent to the three non-teaching staff unions.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance, sponsored by Hon. Aisha Dukku (APC-Gombe), who solicited for the intervention of the Green Chamber in the looming crisis.

While deliberating on the motion, the lawmakers tasked Federal Government to immediately to set up a committee that would address the alleged discrimination of the non-teaching staff and Academic Staff Union of Universities without further delay.

Some of the lawmakers who spoke in favour of the motion are Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP-Kogi); Hon. Bulus Maren (PDP-Plateau) Hon. Sada Soli (APC-Katsina), Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo(APC-Ondo) Isiaka Ibrahim (APC-Ogun) and Ben Roland Igbakpa (PDP- Delta) among others

In her lead debate, Hon. Dukku who frowned at the development explained that the “Joint Committee of the non-teaching staff in the universities has directed its branches to mobilise its members for a nationwide protest starting on Monday, July 15, 2019, before embarking on strike action.”

She added that “the action of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions is as a result of the Federal Government’s refusal to recall sacked workers of Staff Schools and the alleged discriminatory attitude of government against non-teaching staff.”

The lawmaker also expressed concern that “SSANU and NASU also decried exclusion of its members from the workings of the National University Pension Company (NUPENCO) solely operated by the Academic Staff Union of Universities,” further noted that “the alleged preferential treatment extended ASUU by the Federal Government as seen in the recent allocation of money by the Ministry of Education signed by the director of tertiary education, allocating 80 per cent of the money to ASUU and only 20 per cent to the non teaching staff unions.”

Hon. Dukku who noted that the “way and manner the money is being shared is contrary to any known accounting procedure and any known international best practice,” maintained that the action of the non-teaching staff, if not addressed on time, will cripple academic activities and shutting down public universities.

Contributing to the debate on the motion, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuff (PDP-Kogi) harped on the need for Federal Government to urgently evolve measures to bring workers to a negotiating table.

He added that the failure to act on the part of those concerned is causing the nation more harm than good.

In their contributions, the duo of Tunji-Ojo and  Igbakpa advocated for the immediate declaration of the state of emergency in the nation’s educational sector whereby by a National summit of critical stakeholders in education would be organized.

According to Hon Igbakpa, “how can you have confidence in a government that will not honour an agreement it enters into? This issue has been on for a very long time, this House must face reality and address it now”.

On his own, Hon Tunji-Ojo lamented the trend had led to brain drain in the country as well to do Nigerians especially elected and appointed as well as public officers now prefer their children and wards to schools in the foreign countries while those Nigerians would prefer to stay back after the completion of their education.

Speaking in the same vein, Hon Isiaka decried the incessant strike in the nation’s Tertiary education sector and stressed the need for the National Assembly to wade into the matter in order to avert the imminent crisis in the sector again.

While ruling the  Speaker, Hon  Femi Gbajabiamila who presided over the plenary session, disclosed that the House would set up a Committee to interface with Federal Government and the leadership of relevant Unions with the view to averting the imminent industrial action

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