The Senior Staff Association of the Nigerian Universities has called for an indefinite strike on December 24, 2015 to protest a recent decision of the Federal Government to sack 2,000 university workers across the country by January, 2016.
The National President of SSANU, Mr. Samson Ugwoke, said during a press briefing in Abuja on Friday that the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, and the National Universities Commission had written letters of termination to 2,000 members of staff of the universities.
Ugwoke said that the senior staff union of the universities had already dispatched letters to the Ministry of Education, the NUC and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to withdraw the letters of termination issued to varsity workers of the University of Ilorin, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto and others.
He said that SSANU also urged the Education Ministry and the other agencies to ensure immediate withdrawal of similar letters to vice chancellors to terminate the appointment of personnel of university staff primary schools.
He said the letter dated December 17, 2015 also copied President Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Senate, Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and others.
Ugwoke added that the 2,000 workers affected in the planned retrenchment exercise were drawn from 31 universities and were employed by the councils of the various institutions to make the requisite contribution to educational development in the institutions and the society over the years.
The SSANU leader noted that the directive to sack the workers who are expected to leave service in January 2016 was contained in a circular said to have been written and signed by a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Mr. E.O Fayemi, on behalf of the minister.
He stated further that the circular dated April 21, 2015, was attached with a memorandum and report from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission dated March 2014 and February 2014 respectively.
According to him, the commission responded to the circular by directing the removal of personnel of staff schools and other institutions affiliated to the universities from the payroll.
He said, “The implementation of this directive would be a gross violation and breach of the SSANU/FGN 2009 Agreement, which explicitly stated that the University shall bear full capital and recurrent cost of University Staff primary schools.
“It is further shocking to note that till date, the Federal Ministry of Defence still funds the capital and recurrent costs of over 100 Army Children Schools, Command Children Schools, Navy Primary Schools and Air Force Schools; while the Ministry of Police Affairs still funds its Police Children Schools, all from the Federal Treasury.
“We are surprised that an agency of government, the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, could continue with this callous, wicked, insensitive and ill-intentioned agenda, despite our calls, letters, press releases and publications on the issue.
“With the advent of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, we had written series of public and confidential letters on same with no positive response.”
He said that 90 per cent of the pupils of the university staff schools were children of the staff of the institutions stressing that the schools were established alongside other academic components of the universities in some cases.
The unionist said SSANU had to give the December 24, 2015 deadline to the Federal Government as part of the efforts to prevent the over 2000 workers of the universities from being sacked.
Several efforts by Saturday PUNCH to get the response of ASUU National President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, was resisted because he said, “I am out of the country and you don’t expect me to answer you from abroad.”
Also when contacted, the Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister of State for Education, Anthony Akuneme, directed our correspondent to the office of the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu.
But several calls and SMS to the Assistant Director of Press in the Education Ministry, Abdul Onu, were not replied.