HEADLINE | Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2024

SSANU, NASU members stage nationwide protests over withheld salaries


SSANU and NASU members protest unpaid arrears on Tuesday, July 9, 2024

By Eyitope Kuteyi, Abdulhakeem Garba and Chimezie Enyiocha

Members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), on Tuesday, staged nationwide protests within campuses of public universities to demand the immediate release of their withheld salaries.

One of our correspondents observed placard-carrying non-academic staff members at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The aggrieved workers had several inscriptions on their placards as they marched around the university campus, calling on the Federal Government to release their withheld salaries and implement their other outstanding demands.

At the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), in Imo State, our correspondent in the state observed displeased workers as they marched around the university community to press home their demands.

SSANU and NASU members at the Universities of Ilorin in Kwara State also joined the protest. They called on the political leaders to reduce governance costs and cut down their opulence lifestyles to meet their financial demands.

The leaders of the two bodies and their members after a congress held a rally across the university campus. They wondered why the Federal Government could not meet their demands since 2009.

To avoid a total breakdown of university education across the country, the leaders of the two bodies called on the government to hasten action in the implementation of their demands.

It was gathered that the situation was not different at the University of Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some of the other public universities across the country.

Protracted Imbroglio

NASU National President Makolo Hassan had on Monday said there was no going back on Tuesday’s demonstrations as both unions claimed that the Federal Government has failed to address their demands following their warning strike some months back.

Tuesday’s protests followed the expiration of a two-week ultimatum handed by NASU and SSANU to the Federal Government in June.

Earlier in March, SSANU and NASU members embarked on a one-week warning strike to protest their eight months’ withheld salaries by the Federal Government. During the warning strike, nothing moved administratively within any public university in Nigeria as hostels and varsity gates were locked up and electricity supply was cut off by disgruntled non-academic staff.

The two unions berated the Federal Government for paying withheld salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) while neglecting the non-academic unions.

All the unions had embarked on an eight-month strike in 2022 to press home some of their demands including a better welfare package. The administration of then President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay policy’ against the unions but President Bola Tinubu last October approved the release of four of the eight months withheld salaries to ASUU members.

SSANU and NASU accused the Federal Government of unfair treatment and discrimination by failing to pay them like their academic counterparts.

Education Minister Tahir Mamman had in April blamed a “communication problem” for the non-payment of SSANU and NASU members, whilst he insisted that they were not discriminated against.

Mamman had said non-academic staff members of universities would get half of their withheld salaries upon the President’s approval but SSANU and NASU members said they haven’t gotten any three months after the minister’s promise.

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