SERAP urges Buhari to reverse Ngige’s deductions from lecturers’ salaries

THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, to reverse the deduction in the salaries of university lecturers.

The Federal government had paid half-salaries to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the month of October 2022.

Some professors reportedly received salaries ranging from N71,000 to N121,000 for the month.

The minister’s decision to pay lecturers half of their salaries has informed  a call by the National Executive Council of ASUU for a meeting, and promoted concerns of another round of an industrial action.

Ngige had justified the decision of the half-salary payment by saying the lecturers deserved to be paid only “pro rata” as, to him, they did not work for the entire October month.

But in a statement on Sunday, SERAP knocked the Federal government for its decision not to pay the varsity teachers in full.

SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, asked President Buhari to direct “the acting Accountant-General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh, to immediately reverse the “apparently illegal deductions from the salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for October 2022.”

The rights group demands that the government pay ASUU members their full salaries for the duration of their strike action.

SERAP argued that half salaries to ASUU members solely for exercising their human rights is patently unlawful and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international standards.

They stressed that the alleged deductions from the salaries of ASUU members also amount to punishing them for exercising their right to strike.

According to SERAP, the deductions are illegal and disproportionate.

SERAP further said that the deductions may also be construed as a deliberate attempt to take away the right to strike, and to make ASUU a lame duck.



    It stated, “The right to strike implies the right of workers not to be punished for striking. ASUU members do not, therefore, forfeit their salaries because they exercise their right to strike.

    “We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of this letter’s receipt and/or publication. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests in the public interest.”

    SERAP further said that Illegal deductions from the salaries of ASUU members may also violate the right to work and the dignity inherent in a human being.

    On February 14, ASUU embarked on strike and suspended it on October 14. While the strike lasted, the government insisted that lecturers would not be paid for the period of the strike.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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