The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, are now at each other’s throats over how to disburse the N22.1 billion Earned Allowances promised university workers by the federal government.
ASUU is accusing SSANU and other staff unions in the university system of not been able to fight their own battles and always waiting for ASUU to do the fighting and then come to share in the spoil.
However, SSANU is accusing ASUU of greed and that the union likes to play the role of a tree making the forest.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke and the National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, made the positions of their unions known in separate interviews with the Vanguard Newspaper at the weekend.
Osodeke, who first spoke, wondered why other unions in the university system would not fight their own battles, but wait until ASUU has done all the work before raising issues.
“We don’t know why they won’t negotiate for their members. According to Trade Union Rules, a union cannot negotiate for members of another union. They just want to incubate eggs they did not lay. ASUU collects dues from members and it is our duty to defend such members and negotiate on their behalf. Let other unions go and do the same.
“I don’t know the kind of unionism they practise, is it unionism of attaching themselves to other unions? Let them go and meet the government if what they are being offered is not enough. Whatever they get is because of the magnanimity of the government. You are a journalist and if the government gives anything to medical workers, will your union, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, says its members would benefit from it?” He asked.
On his part, Comrade Ibrahim of SSANU accused ASUU of behaving as if it can do everything all alone in the university system, and also accused the union of greed.
“We don’t need to attach ourselves to any other union to demand and get our dues and rights. In the first instance, we are all members of the university system. When the first tranche of allowance was paid, it was fairly shared and ASUU did not like that. So, before the second payment was paid, ASUU had gone to twist the arm of the government and from the government end, the sharing formula followed the funds.
“After the payment of the second tranche, the government set up a committee to do the forensic audit of all federal universities and it was discovered that ASUU members were overpaid. Up until now, the report of the forensic audit has not been released. ASUU forced the government to let the sharing template follow the funds,” he said.
On the call by SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions, NASU, that government should suspend the disbursement based on 75% allocation for ASUU and 25% for other unions, Osodeke said SSANU and NASU could not stop the disbursement.
However, Ibrahim said if the money is shared based on that formula, his members would decide the next line of action.
But finding by our correspondent is that the money has not been released as at Sunday, the end of October, which was the deadline given the government by ASUU to pay.
When confronted with that, Osodeke said the leadership of ASUU would meet in a few days to assess the situation.
Recall that last week, the non-teaching staff went to town complaining about alleged lopsidedness in how the expected money would be shared.
SSANU and NASU, which formed a Joint Action Committee, JAC, through Ibrahim and Peter Adeyemi, the Secretary General of NASU, said they would not accept the sharing template being proposed.
The third non-academic staff union in universities is the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
While the government is in a fix over the situation, the possiblity of the government giving the non-teaching staff additional fund cannot be ruled out.
It did the same thing when tbe second tranche of N23 billion for the year 2017 was released and ASUU was allowed to take 89% and following the complaint of the non-teaching staff, an additional sum of N8 billion was given them.
Meanwhile, the situation, if not handled properly, can lead to another round of industrial action in the universities, either by teaching or non-teaching staff.