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FG raises salaries for lecturers, begs students not to disrupt calendar – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

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…We’ve not been informed, ASUU insists

The federal government has approved the implementation of 25 per centage pay rise for lecturers in all federal institutions.

The government had earlier objected to the payment of 25 per cent to lecturers in the tertiary institutions when it raised those of Professors to 35 per cent.

But in a Circular No: OAuGF/ SW/C/QP/1395/VOL.1/11, dated September 21, 2023, issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, the Auditor General said the implementation was approved by the Presidential Committee on Salaries at its 13th meeting.

The decision was taken after “taking into consideration, various stages of collective bargaining,” the circular stated.

The circular was sequel to a similar letter from the Chairman of the National Salaries, incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), dated September 14, 2023.

The letter which was addressed to the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, had indicated that the government has increased the salaries of workers in the federal government institutions.

The letter sighted by Blueprint Weekend and signed by Ekpo Nta, Chairman of the (NSIWC), revealed that the 23.5 per cent earlier approved was increased to 25 per cent.

Nta, in the letter, expressed pleasure with the success the Minister’s “informal discussions have achieved”, adding that “We shall endeavour to support all your efforts aimed at repositioning the education sector.”

The letter also contained other circulars pertaining to the four salary structures in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

The former Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, had insisted that the federal government could only afford a 23.5 per cent salary increase for all categories of the workforce in federal universities, except for people in the professorial cadre who would enjoy a 35 per cent upward review of their salaries.

Adamu had while addressing Pro-Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of federal universities, in Abuja, early this year, disclosed that an agreement was reached with the ASUU members that henceforth, allowances that pertain to ad-hoc duties of the academic and non-academic staff shall be paid as at when due by the Governing Councils of Universities to which such services were rendered and to the staff who performed such services.

He, thus, confirmed that a sum of N150 billion shall be provided for in the 2023 Budget as funds for the revitalization of federal universities, and the funds would be disbursed to the institutions in the first quarter of the year.

He also disclosed that a sum of N50 billion shall be provided for in the 2023 budget for the payment of outstanding areas of earned academic allowances of lecturers, and the funds would also be paid in the first quarter of the year.

ASUU reacts 

However, reacting to the circular issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation regarding the increment, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has said it had not been informed of any pay rise given lecturers in federal institutions.

ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, stated this in an interview with journalists on Friday.

“We have not been informed of such a development and when we are officially notified, we are going to react,” he said.

Conversly, the National President of the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), Dr Niyi Sunmonu, said he was aware of the circular.

He added that the pay rise was not enough, but that his union would not reject it.

“In fact, that circular ought to have taken effect many months ago. We met the then Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, over the matter.

“The thinking then was that the circular would be made public last March and the effective date of its effectiveness would be as from January this year and the arrears paid.

“What they are offering is not enough but we are not rejecting it. However, this is to be taken different from the general upward review of salaries of public workers in view of the current economic crunch in the country,” he said.

FG’s plea

Meanwhile, the federal government has appealed to students, parents, and lecturers to shun acts capable of disrupting the academic session as universities resume.

The Minister of State for Education, Tanko Sununu, made the appeal during a meeting with the Congress of University Academics (CONUA).

In a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ben Goong, on Friday in Abuja, the minsiter said the show of restraint was in the interest of all stakeholders, and system stability.

The minister noted that the ministry was having constructive dialogue and consultation with stakeholders over the welfare of students, and staff as well as the provision of infrastructure in tertiary institutions.

Acknowledging that strikes and non-use of facilities could lead to rapid infrastructural decay, the minister promised that President Bola Tinubu would do everything “humanly possible to avoid any situation that could lead to strikes.”

The president of CONUA said there was the likelihood of student unrest occasioned by the new increase in school fees.

This, he said, has the potential of disrupting academic activities and the school calendar. 

He also appealed to the government to look into ways of improving the condition of service of academic and non-academic staff of universities, which he said had deteriorated due to the fuel subsidy removal.

Sunmonu noted that there was a need to revisit the issue of the eight-month salary arrears that arose from the last strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), arguing that members of CONUA did not go on strike.

The statement added: “It must be noted, however, that all academic activities in universities were grounded throughout the period of the strike.”

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