By Gabriel Dike
Industrial action by the non-academic staff in the Nigerian University System (NUS) on Monday disrupted the on-going screening of candidates offered admission for the 2017/2018 academic session.
Members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) in federal and state universities began an indefinite strike to protest the sharing formula of N23billion released by the federal government for earned allowances to all categories of staff in the NUS.
After the suspension of an indefinite strike by the academic and non-academic staff of the universities early this year, the federal government released N23billion to 24 federal universities to pay the Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) for 2009/2010.
The non academic unions of NUS last week kicked against the allocation of N18.3billion to academic staff and N4.6billion to SSANU, NAAT and NASU members out of N23billion released by the federal government for payment of EAA.
In a joint letter dated November 27 and signed by President of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, NAAT, Sani Suleiman and NASU, Chris Ani, urged members to resume the suspended indefinite strike as from midnight, Sunday, December 3.
At the University of Lagos, members of the three unions after a joint congress, staged protest on campus and rejected the allocation of N23, 220,335.15 million of N958, 000,000 million received by the institution.
Immediately after the joint congress, the union leaders and members stormed the library, Senate building, Bursary and service area to chase out members found at work.
Aside locking the main gate, the striking staff unions stormed the Multipurpose Hall and disrupted the on-going screening of candidates admitted for the new academic year.
The leaders of the unions told the candidates and their parents to go home that the screening will not continue because of the strike and chased out its members handling the admission screening.
As soon as the striking members of JAC stormed the hall, candidates and their parents scampered for safety while leaders of the unions forced each faculty admission to pack and leave the hall.
At the service area which supplies water and light, the protesting SSANU, NAAT and NASU members switched off electricity supply and water to the entire campus.
SSANU, NAAT and NASU UNILAG chairmen, Mr. Olugbenga Adenaya, Mr. Kehinde Ajibade and Suleiman Lawal, marched their members to the main gate, staged protest and condemned the sharing formula adopted by the federal government.
Adenaya wondered why the federal government allocated just N22 million of N958 million to the three non-academic unions in UNILAG and vowed that the strike would continue until the government addresses the skewed allocation.
He disclosed that the strike is not against the university management or the academic staff but a fight against injustice and demanded for an explanation from government on how the N23 billion sharing formula was arrived at.
Two national officers of SSANU and NASU told Daily Sun on phone that the cash offices of universities were shut to prevent members from processing and paying EAA to academic staff.
According to them, the cash office will remain locked and that members would not work even if directed by the vice chancellors, registrars or bursar to process the payment for ASUU.
The Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Mr. Abdussobur Salaam, told Daily Sun that reports from the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, University of Jos, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi and University of Port Harcourt indicated members complied with Joint Action Committee (JAC) directive.
Salaam debunked insinuations that state universities are not part of the on-going strike and that members at Olabisi Onabanjo University and Lagos State University complied but investigation revealed that LASU SSANU, NAAT and NASU members ignored the strike and members were at work.
The image maker said members handling admission screening should be part of the on-going strike and that leaders of the unions have the powers to stop the process. He confirmed that JAC members switched off electricity and water in the institutions.
On chasing out staff from bursary (cash office), he said it was not part of the plan to stall the payment of EAA to academic staff but in compliance with directive for JAC members to down tool.