The Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu on Friday announced the reopening of schools on October 12.
While the announcement was received with excitement by many students, undergraduates are, however, not happy, especially as Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities SSANU and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities NASU announced that they would be going on a two-week strike from Oct 5- Oct 19.
The National President SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, and General Secretary NASU, Peter Adeyemi, in a statement on Friday, said the strike was premised on the inconsistencies of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) in the payment of salaries and the non-payment of Earned Allowances to members.
They said other issues include, “non-payment of national minimum wage and retirement benefits to our members. The delay in the renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU Agreements, as well as the non-payment of benefits to retired members, teaching staff usurping the headship of non-teaching units, neglect and poor funding of state universities.”
Daily Trust on Sunday interviewed some students on their feelings about the upcoming strike by SSANU and NASU, which may hamper their resumption and they said it was disappointing coming at this time.
“As students of public institutions, we have been locked out of the classrooms for months and all our higher institutions can think of, is their personal gain,” said Richard Kenneth, a 200-level student of University of Abuja.
He maintained that their educational bodies have failed them and can only compensate a little for this failure by letting them go back to school in order to secure the “future of our great nation Nigeria.”
For Alpha John, another 200 Level student of Nasarawa State University Keffi (NSUK), the associations should plan a meeting with the FG to resolve the issues.
“SSANU/NASU joining ASUU on the ongoing strike will lead to a serious setback in our educational system,” he said.
While noting that the government should take the necessary actions to ensure that the strike does not hold on Monday (tomorrow), he said they should meet the requirements of the above bodies.
Reacting to the development, a parent, Suleiman Eshiotsekhai, said it is disappointing that after children have been home for a better part of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, planned strike action by trade unionists in the universities is now threatening to stop universities from re-opening.
“The government and unionists have a responsibility at this auspicious time to negotiate whatever challenge they have to stop the impending industrial crisis in a sector already overwhelmed with huge challenges.”
Another parent, Mrs Eucharia Azubuike, said it is disappointing that the bodies will come up with a strike after undergraduates have been home for seven months.
“Why didn’t they use the lockdown period to negotiate with the government over their problems instead of punishing the students and their parents? Do they really know what it means for students to lose seven months of an academic calendar and still counting? It is quite unfair and wicked if I may say,” she said.
Meanwhile, the National Public Relation Officer SANNU, Abdussobur Salaam, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday via telephone, said they aggregated the problem of their members which the Federal Government has failed to address after several attempts and that compelled them to embark on the strike.
Salaam said: “We reached out to the Federal Government as far back as March at the early stage of the pandemic immediately IPPIS was implemented to begin February, particularly having observed all the lapses.
“We wrote to the Minister of Education and copied the Minister of Labour and Accountant General of the Federation, intimating them of those abnormalities which we have seen along the line and demanding that they are rectified.”
He further said: “We waited till April and May and there was no rectification, rather what we have witnessed is deep cut in the salary of our members and when it was 1st of June, we wrote another letter to the Minister of Education intimating him that our previous request in respect of correcting those abnormalities and ensuring that our earned allowances are paid among other problems that we have witnessed were not addressed.”
He, however, said, after the 14 days strike, an appraisal will be done, failure of the government to address their issue, a subsequent strike will follow.
Reacting to the development, the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong, said they were not aware of the planned strike and there’s no way they can address what they were not aware of.