Not less than 30 lecturers in the six universities in the Calabar zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have allegedly died in the past one year.
The Coordinator of the zone, Prof. Nsing Ogar, told journalists yesterday that their deaths “may not be unconnected with the strangulating cuts in their salaries.” Ogar explained that “16 lecturers died last year while five have died since the beginning of the year, “ while the ASUU Chairman in Uyo zone, Dr. Aniekan Brown added, “seven of our colleagues have died since last year.”
He disclosed that the shortfall in the emoluments of ASSU members since 2015 had risen to hundreds of millions, which has made it difficult for them to live decently. According to him, the issues involved are “the incomplete payment of salaries, non-implementation of promotion, non-remittance of statutory deductions to unions, co-operative societies and creditor banks with which staff have commitments.”
Ogar and the chairmen of University of Calabar zone of ASSU, Dr. Tony Eyang, his counterparts in Cross River University of Technology, Dr. Emmanuel Ettah and Dr. Aniekan Brown (University of Uyo) signed the union’s statement.
They said: “Only fragments of salaries have been paid to staff, with some universities paying between 80 and 90 per cent from December 2015 to January 2017. To complicate the insensitivity to the plight of workers in the academia, the government further cut February salary by about 30 per cent in what appeared to be an onslaught against the university system.
The leaders threatened that a strike may be inevitable if the government failed to find a solution, regretting that the governing councils of universities were indifferent to the matter.
Also, the ASSU in Benin zone yesterday gave a 14-day ultimatum to the governing councils of universities in the zone to pay the shortfall in the salaries. The Coordinator of the zone, Prof. Anthony Monye-Emina said the deficit was a threat to the peace in the university system.
The universities under the zone are the University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Delta State University, Abraka and the rFederal University of Petroleum Resources, Warri.
Meanwhile, the beneficiaries of N-Power teachers’ initiative in Edo State have protested against the non-payment of their monthly stipends. Mr. Isaiah Okpako, who led the protesters to the state secretariat of the Union of Journalists (NUJ), said over 450 beneficiaries from Egor, Oredo and Ovia South West local council areas were not paid since their enlistment in the Federal Government’s scheme.
But the state Coordinator of the project, Samuel Uhunmwangho, urged them to be patient as the payments were ongoing. In Delta State, the ongoing teachers’ strike took a twist yesterday as members of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) chased out those who resumed duties and locked the school gates.
The union vowed not to suspend the strike until their demands were met. Governor Ifeaanyi Okowa had threatened to invoke the ‘no work, no pay’ proviso against them if they failed to suspend the strike.
While the pupils who resumed for studies were also chased away by the NUT members, only those who are currently writing the West African Examinations (WAEC) were allowed into the schools after showing their identity cards.