The persistent delay in payment of staff salaries in the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, has taken a dramatic dimension following skirmishes that has arisen from the situations.
News Express reports that the state-owned university had, amidst the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, further plunged its staff into untold hardship arising from nonpayment of salaries to the workers for several months.
It was gathered that while some workers of the university had been owed from May 2020, others were owed from June, a situation that has terribly affected members of the institution.
News Express also reliably gathered that the varsity may go into bankruptcy due to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic that ravaged the world recently.
The Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr. Patrick Itumo, at the height of the salary squabbles told journalists that the instruction was unable to pay its workforce because students who would have paid school fees to make up for salaries were not yet back to school as they were trapped at home by the dreaded pandemic.
According to reliable sources, the Ebonyi State University had in previous administration received monthly subvention amounting to N245 million from the state government, but when the administration of Governor David Umahi came on board, the monthly subvention reduced to N100 million which puts the running of the University, especially payment of salaries in jeopardy.
Our correspondent further gathered that the current wage bill of the university stands at over N300 million which therefore means that for the University to be able to pay to its workers at least one month salary, it has to wait to get three months subventions from the State Government.
The situation, according to the sources, orchestrated the ability of the University to pay June salary to its workers recently after collecting May, June and July subventions.
Reactions, anxieties, agitations and tensions have overshadowed the university’s workforce, especially when Governor Umahi stated that he would cut the wages of the workers of the state university.
Investigations by News Express in Abakaliki revealed that some handful of academic staff of the university alleged to be branded as the Forum of Divine Mandate Professors under the chairmanship of the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Eugene Nweke, had met in a closed door meeting with the Governor where they allegedly accepted that the state government should cut their salaries by 20%.
On the grounds of the above, various trade unions in the University which include the Non Academic Staff Union of the University (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, (SSANU), the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) amongst others held emergency congresses and rejected the wage cut arrangements.
It was gathered that both the NASU and SSANU had rejected such arrangement for wage cut on the grounds that it was inimical to career progression as that would create more pains on them amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
They hinged their arguments on the press statement by the university’s PRO, who once claimed that what was responsible for nonpayment of salaries was the absence of students on campus to pay fees.
The trade unions rather chose to patiently wait when school reopens for their students to come back and help them out through payment of fees if actually students’ fees were responsible for their present pitiable conditions.
They however accused both the management and the state government of playing politics with their welfare and the future of their families as the University had in some other times been shut down through strike and the staff were never owed, for the periods it lasted.
In a separate congress, ASUU was said to have also vehemently opposed any form of antics by the state government to cut their salaries by any guise, adding that they would use all legal industrial means available to them to stop it.
They severally alleged that Professor Nweke and his cohorts may have been swindled into accepting that government should reduce the salaries of the University workers by 20%.
ASUU therefore sent signal to Governor Umahi to reconsider his intentions and choose better option of solving the various challenges in EBSU which according to them include lack of promotion and the current salary challenges which they are made to suffer. (News Express)