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Furore over earned allowance in varsities as ASUU, SSANU disagree

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) are currently at loggerheads over the disbursement of N25billion earned allowance released to them by the Federal Government.

While ASUU took 80 per cent of the money, other non-teaching staffs were left with 20 percent.

SSANU has since rejected the sharing formula and is currently on a one-week warning strike alongside other non-teaching staff unions.

But ASUU president, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi while exonerating the union said the 25billion released by the government was based on teaching and research services that the university teachers provide.

“We are still monitoring the implementation of our agreement, recall that the Memorandum of Agreement was signed on February 7, 2019. Though government finally released the N25billion it promised as part payment, we have witnessed the controversy generated with some other staff unions. We don’t have problems with them, except they have with us. We negotiated this money and government only appealed that we should accommodate them and there’s no basis to attack one another.

“We all have our 2009 agreement, in signing the agreement for academic staff, the components were clearly spelt out and they border on teaching and research services that we provide. It is very scientific the way we calculate what people earn, which we call earned allowances, not shared allowances. But what we see of late is an attempt to turn it to sharing and until we go back to the original concept, we will continue to see these unwarranted attacks. We have been maligned as a union that does not care about other unions but that is not correct.  When you go out to make your demands, we also go out to make our own demands.

“In the agreement for other staff unions, what they said they should do was to negotiate with their councils, it is only the agreement with ASUU that they said government would pay. For the other unions, it is their councils.

“For ASUU members, you either teach postgraduate students or not, you cannot fabricate that. You either supervise postgraduate projects or you don’t supervise. You either go on field trip or teaching practise or you don’t. There are specific items that these claims are tied to. They are even complaining that they were given 20 per cent, there were professors who got less than 10 per cent of what others got and there were those who did not get anything because they were not involved in teaching postgraduate students, they were not involved in excess workload, for instance, if you go on sabbatical, you are not entitled to anything, you are not on ground but if we turn it to sharing, it means everybody must have a piece of the pie and that is not the spirit,” Ogunyemi added.

But SSANU insisted that there was nothing like earned academic allowance, accusing officials of the federal ministry of education of deliberately causing confusion.

Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Abdussourbu Salaam in a chat with The Guardian insisted that as far as they are concerned, the concept of earned academic is unknown to them.

“We had an agreement in 2009 between the Federal Government and the various unions-NASU, SSANU, ASUU and one of the major ingredients of the agreement was the issue of earned allowance. We signed an agreement for earned allowance because it is earned; we expected that when government is going to allocate resources to the university for the purpose of allowance, it should not be on the basis of unions. The standard practice is that you send the money to each individual council of the university; it is the council that knows those staff in its employment and the nature of job and allowance that person deserves. But unfortunately, that was not the procedure some agents in the federal ministry of education adopted.

“This is the third tranche of earned allowances we are receiving, the first tranche paid in 2013 was through the councils of the university, which now sets up committees made up of the registrar and bursar because statutorily, the registrar is the chief custodian of all the records in the university and it is the registrar that knows which job specification has been defined for a staff and can be able to say that this staff is deserving of the
allowance.

“The first tranche was paid to the councils which set up committees and these monies were allocated there was no rancor.

But all of a sudden, the second tranche there was a deviation from that approach adopted earlier. All of a sudden, we had a situation where the ministry would write and say N16m had been allocated, N14m out of it is for ASUU, and N2m is for others. That is an aberration, it is a deviation from all standard of allocation of resources, and also don’t forget that we have a university autonomy law signed by the Federal Government that makes the council to be the determinant of resources and allowances that go to universities not the FME.

Few months ago, N25b was released, out of this 80 per cent went to ASUU while 20 per cent went to others. It was released through the universities and allocated from the office of the director, tertiary education in the FME.

They shared the money from the office of the director and that is an aberration because the responsibility of councils was done from the office of the director, tertiary education.it is against all standard accounting or administrative norms of payment of allowances and that is what has brought about this agitation.

The SSANU boss insisted that their 2009 agreement was with the Federal Government and not with ASUU.

Earned academic allowance is alien to us. What is the justification for the ones being given to us these past years? Is it a bonus?” he queried.


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