Lecturers at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), have said that they are being left out of the N23 billion Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) released by the government last week to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) because they did not go on strike.
The allowance was said to be in partial fulfilment of the agreement between the ASUU and the federal government.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin on Monday over the development, chairman of the university’s branch of the union, Dr Usman Raheem, expressed dismay that teachers who did not go on strike for 18 years were being deprived of an allowance meant to compensate those who worked while their counterparts who were perennially on strike were being paid.
Dr Raheem, whose branch has not been recognised by the ASUU national body since 2001, said that the ministry of Education and its parastatals had been hijacked by the national ASUU to the detriment of well-meaning academics.
The UNILORIN ASUU leader also said that he had received series of complaint from his members in the last one week, calling on the National Assembly to wade into the matter to forestall a situation where members of the branch would be pushed to the wall.
He, however, ruled out strike as an option by the union to press home the demand.
His words: “After so many attempts at frustrating us and bringing us to their fold by force and not by dialogue, they have now found an ally in the Federal ministry of education. As I talk to you now, the federal ministry of Education has been taken over by ASUU national. Everywhere is now being controlled by ASUU national.
“To the extent that they now dictate who should be given the federal government approved earned academic allowance. So they shared N23 billion to ASSU by the federal government and they excluded two universities, ASUU of UNILORIN and ASUU of UNN and the excuse they gave when we began to fire from several angles was that it was because what we submitted was faulty.
“And we told them that it was a coincidence that the two universities that did not go on strike were the two universities that also submitted what they called faulty documentation and to the extent that to date nobody got to know about it.
“We have petitioned the President, the Senate president and the speaker, House of Representatives. We are saying that the minister would be told that our members actually worked and they are the ones who actually qualified for the allowance because we actually earned it but the minister is now giving it to people who didn’t work so it is more or less a strike allowance.
“If that is moral, we will not complain because we would not spoil the efforts we have been making since 2001. But since it is tagged earned allowance, and our members were working then, not now, but for the past 18 years, unbroken, I do not know who is a better earner of that allowance.
“Even if they now pay me tomorrow I have been traumatised, like my other colleagues. If we must continue in this order, then we have to seek protection from the public against the antics of the federal ministry of education and their cohorts.
“Our members are demoralised; they have been mounting pressure on us because they have been working for nine years, graduating students at each session and yet they are the ones now to be denied this allowance. If things are not handled properly, only God knows what will happen because we may not be able to control them.
“Their intention is that we did not go on strike so we must be punished but we would not be pushed into that because otherwise we would have yielded to their call and lost the 18-year record we have now.”
Meanwhile, the non-academic staff members of the University of Ilorin, have joined the nationwide strike called to protest unfair deals from the federal government by their national body.
The decision to join the strike, it was gathered was taken at a congress of the joint action committee, umbrella organ for three industrial unions in the system; the Non-Academic Staff Union ( NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the NATS.
At the Congress, Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Abdulkarem Age allegedly made spirited efforts to talk the workers out of the strike but he was said to have been rebuffed by the workers.
The workers, it was gathered said that they would not disobey the directive of the national body which had been duly communicated since last week.
“He pleaded with us to sustain our record at the university and even asked that we retain some critical sectors but we told him at the Congress that the strike will be total,” a source said.