Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila never pledged to pay off salary arrears owing to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, according to House of Representatives spokesman Benjamin Kalu (ASUU).
Remember that the last ASUU strike lasted from February 14, 2022, until it was called off on October 14, 2022.
To end the eight-month strike, Gbajabiamila arranged a number of meetings and talks between ASUU and the federal government.
Information According to reports from Nigeria, Gbajabiamila was criticized by ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke for allegedly misleading the union into calling off the strike on the promise that their salary arrears would be paid.
However, a response from the Kalu read: “On Tuesday, December 27, 2022, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), granted an interview in which he accused Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, of using deceit to persuade the union to end its strike action.
He charged specifically that the Speaker broke his written promise to the government to immediately balance the arrears of wages owing to union members for the time they were on strike.
“For the record, at no point did the Speaker of the House of Representatives commit to offsetting the arrears of salaries owed to union members for the time they were on strike. The House of Representatives helped to resolve the strike by making commitments to improve the welfare package of university lecturers and revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities. These commitments are reflected in the 2023 Appropriation Bill, which includes one hundred and seventy billion naira (N170,000,000,000.00) to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers and additional three hundred billion naira (N300,000,000,000.00) in revitalisation funds.
“Furthermore, the House of Representatives continues to work with stakeholders; the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). This effort is being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.
“Professor Emmanuel Osodeke knows that the Federal Government of Nigeria is under no obligation to pay university lecturers’ salaries for the duration they were on strike. This is a settled matter in law. See S. 43(1)(a) Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN). The Executive decision not to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is warranted by the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions. Nonetheless, the Speaker has made interventions for an exemption in this regard, and Professor Osodeke is well aware of this.”
According to the spokesman, the House’s participation was primarily intended to safeguard the public interest and make sure there was a viable tertiary education system.
However, he asked Osodeke to quit claiming falsely that his attitude was to blame for universities being closed.
“For those who recognize the transformative power of education in any community, the public interest in ensuring a well-functioning postsecondary education sector is a subject of essential concern. This is why the 9th House of Representatives has been persistent in looking into ways to improve the national framework for public education, from primary to secondary levels. When stakeholders opt to disregard important issues and the consideration of audacious ideas in favor of cheap coercion and immoral propaganda, our goals in this regard won’t be met.
The universities’ prolonged strike was largely caused by Professor Osodeke’s bad faith attitude to discussions and his fondness for political brinkmanship. His persistent intrusions continue to jeopardize the strides being achieved to eliminate the potential of more disruptions to the university academic schedule.
I therefore urge him to stop making any false claims about the House of Representatives and its Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, in his capacity as the president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). In this crucial situation, aggression and self-centered agitation have no place. The moment has come for cool brains and steady hands to work together for the greater good, according to Kalu.
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