The ongoing strike embarked upon by four university-based unions has taken a new twist, as lecturers in medical schools of some Federal Universities have distanced themselves from the industrial action.
This came on a day the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, said the Federal Government’s promise of immediate reply to its submission to the committee set up to negotiate with it had not been fulfilled, nearly a month after.
In a letter to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, by the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UMTH, branch, which Vanguard sighted, the lecturers said they never joined the strike and, consequently, requested for payment of their withheld salaries from March to June 2022.
The lecturers also sent the same letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, as well as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
The letter, dated June 29, 2022, signed by the Assistant Secretary of the union, Dr Mohammed Abdulahi, and titled: ‘Request for Payment of Our Withheld Salaries from March-June 2022’, read: “We, members of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital branch, majority of which form the College of Medical Sciences Academic Board, University of Maiduguri, wish to kindly request for payment of our withheld salaries from March 2022-June 2022.
“This is because our members (medical lecturers in the University of Maiduguri) have been patriotically doing their work, which includes teaching, training and conducting examinations of medical students throughout the period of the ongoing strike.”
They drew the attention of the minister to their earlier correspondences in March, with the Provost, College of Medicine, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, notifying them of their resolve to remain at work, notwithstanding the strike declared by ASUU.
They explained that the proactive step was taken in case the Federal Government decides to stop the salaries of ASUU members.
The medical lecturers, therefore, appealed for the kind intervention of the minister to encourage their patriotic members to continue their services for the good of Nigerians.
It was reliably gathered that apart from UMTH, other institutions, which medical colleges pulled out of the strike, include Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, ATBUTH, Bauchi, and Usman Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, UDUTH, Sokoto.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, could not be reached for his comment at press time, yesterday.
However, a source in the Education Ministry said they had verified that medical lecturers were teaching and that Usman Danfodio even graduated medical doctor in March/April.
The source, who is a senior official of the ministry, showered praises on the lecturers for their patriotism and assured them that their withheld salaries would be paid as soon as possible.
“Theirs is an act of patriotism. Persistent strike by lecturers is at the base of the poor grading of Nigerian universities and part of the reasons for the falling academic standard.
“How I wish others will emulate those who have decided to remain in the classroom while the numerous challenges facing higher education are sorted out,” the official said.
One of the medical lecturers, who preferred anonymity, further confirmed that their members had not been participating in the ongoing industrial action, adding that they were concerned about the deleterious effect of incessant strikes on the quality of education in Nigeria.