EXCLUSIVE: FG yet to pay ASUU’s rival, CONUA, 8 months salaries backlog

THE Federal Government is yet to pay the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) eight months salaries of its members withheld while the strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) lasted in 2022.

The ICIR reported that ASUU downed tools over unmet demands by the Federal Government, including a 2009 agreement with the lecturers, which the government failed to implement.

ASUU went on strike for eight months – from February 14 to October 14.


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The ICIR reported that the organisation was on strike for over 600 days under immediate former President Muhammadu Buhari.

In what many Nigerians saw as a plan to weaken ASUU, the Buhari government approved the request by CONUA, a breakaway ASUU faction, to be recognised as a labour union. The government also certified the new body during the last ASUU strike.

ASUU consequently called off its strike ten days after CONUA’s certification, executed by the former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige.

The union attributed its decision to end the strike to interventions by top government functionaries, other prominent Nigerians, and pleas from parents and students.

The government vowed it would not pay ASUU for the period its members were on strike but would pay CONUA, which it said did not participate in the strike but was forced out of classrooms because ASUU ‘shut the universities’.

However, ASUU argued that only university management could shut the institutions, not its members.

The group described the government’s decision to pay CONUA, whose members did not work during the strike, as discriminatory.

The Ngige-led government’s team took ASUU to court to validate its ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

On Tuesday, May 30, The ICIR reported the court upholding the government decision.

Speaking with The ICIR reporter on the telephone on Thursday, June 1, CONUA’s National Secretary, Henri Oripeloye said members of the union were yet to receive the eight months salary the government promised.

He said, “It has not been paid. We have done all the government asked us to do regarding that. We are waiting for the payment. We have submitted everything they asked us to submit, confirming that we were locked out of the school. For us, we have done our bit of it. We are waiting for the government to fulfil its part of the bargain.”

Oripeloye said part of the information the government demanded from CONUA members is their names and the universities where they teach.

He said the group had 2,000 members waiting for the payment.

Asked if CONUA suspected deception in the Buhari government’s handling of its promise to its members, Oripeloye said, “We believe that government is a continuum. I hope they will look at those things and do the needful,” referring the President Bola Tinubu’s administration which took over from Buhari on Monday, May 29.






     

     

    He also said there was no reason for anyone to suspect that the government was deceiving the union over the promise.

    When contacted on the telephone, the Head of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said, “If the government has said it will pay them, it will pay them.”

    He added: “That one is decided already. Everybody the government said it would pay, it would pay. They will get it even if they have yet to get their money.”

    Meanwhile, ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke told The ICIR that the union was appealing the court judgment asking its members to forfeit their salaries when they were on strike. “We are appealing the judgment,” he said.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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