The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, has lamented the death of over 100 of its members as a result of the non payment of their four months salaries during the 2022 strike embarked by the four University based unions.
SSANU has also criticized the new Ministers for not hitting the ground running as directed by President Bola Tinubu, alleging that while the Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Works, Nyesom Wike and Dave Umahi respectively have obeyed the directive, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong and his counterpart in Education, Tahir Mamman have not done anything meaningful.
In his remarks at the 45th National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, held at University of Maiduguri, Borno State, the national President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, regretted that the union was yet to get any circular concerning the recent approval of 25 percent and 35 percent salary review for workers in higher institutions in the country.
SSANU further frowned at the federal government delay in concluding the 2009 renegotiation agreement and advised the government to conclude it without further delays.
He said: “We lost over 100 members as a result of the government inability to pay our members their four months salary. Some of them could not meet up with their medical needs. We will not forfeit our salaries because it is our right and the money has been budgeted for.
“The refusal to pay the withheld salary is anti labour, inhuman because if it’s claimed that we went on strike, our strike was legal and it followed all due processes and protocols. We did not wake up to go on strike, we wrote and we were discussing and it was because we got stampeded and government withdrew from our discussions and we were pushed to the wall and the labour laws also gives us the right to withdraw our services, this was exactly what we did. We didn’t break anybody’s head, we didn’t violate any law. Our money has to be released for peace to reign.
“We are aware that the President of this country Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did instruct his Ministers to hit the ground running and we have seen one or two, positively or negatively they have hit the ground running. Even the greatest of Wike’s critics cannot say he has not hit the ground running.
“Even the greatest of the critics of Umahi cannot say that he has not hit the ground running but our Ministers of Education and Labour, they have hit the bed sleeping because the only way members of SSANU will understand that they have hit the ground running is to release our withheld salaries and also fastrack the release of this reviewed salaries.
“Hitting the ground running is not only semantics but it is actionable. We have written to congratulate both the Ministers of Education and the Ministers of Labour. If truly they want to hit the ground running, we expected by now they should have met the university based unions but we realize that there is a new style of governance of only meeting with people whom they are afraid of.
“We are not also reluctant or are we afraid of making the troubles but our strategy in SSANU is different and because we are people who think before we act and that is why we only raise our voices when the kneels of the antagonists is on our neck.”
The association in its communique said, “NEC in session for the umpteenth time condemns the action of government on the withheld four months salary arrears during the last nationwide strike embarked upon by it’s members, viewing it as insensitive and inconsiderate.
“It was obvious that SSANU complied with all legal provisions including giving adequate notices to the appropriate authorities but were forced to embark on that strike due to Government’s failure to honour her part of the agreement.
“SSANU therefore earnestly requests Government to pay the withheld salaries without any further delay considering the harsh economic realities currently faced by citizens in the country as Government is aware, the value for the money has already been eroded by hyperinflation.”