The Federal Government has denied the accusation that it paid members of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria (ASUU) half salaries in October.
Mr Olajide Oshundun, Head of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, said this in a statement he signed on Saturday in Abuja.
Oshundun said the ministry was reacting to reports on alleged selective treatment and half salary payment to ASUU members.
He described both reports as grossly inaccurate, misleading and barefaced distortion of facts.
He noted that members of ASUU were paid their October salary pro-rata, and not half salary as the media widely reported.
According to him, pro-rata was done because they cannot be paid for work not done.
He also said that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, never directed the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the university lecturers half salary.
“Following the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), asking ASUU to go back to work, the leadership of the union wrote to the Minister, informing him that they have suspended the strike.
“The Federal Ministry of Education wrote to Ngige in a similar vein and our labour inspectors in various states also confirmed that they have resumed work.
“So, the minister wrote to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, directing that their salaries should be restored.
“They were paid pro-rata according to the number of days they worked in October,’’ he said.
He added counting from the day they suspended their industrial action, pro-rata was done because “you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”
Oshundun also dismissed a statement by the Chairperson of ASUU, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) branch, Muhammad Al-Mustapha, that the Minister of Labour and Employment was biased in the payment of salaries to selected professional members of the union.
“Those obviously being referred to by the UDUS ASUU chairperson are members of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association (MDCAN) who abstained from the eight-month strike of ASUU.
“This is because they abhorred the incessant strikes by the union and its grave effects on medical education in Nigeria and production of more medical doctors.
“Accusing the Minister of Labour and Employment of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of ASUU is a barefaced distortion of facts.
“Mustapha said he received information that a segment of the staff in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) has been paid seven months of their withheld salaries from March to September.
“He added that this was due to a letter written to the Minister of Finance, instructing the exemption of the listed staff on the application of ‘No Work, No Pay’ rule,“ Oshundun said.
According to him, to set the records straight, the medical lecturers who are being referred to by the Chairperson of ASUU UDUS branch, abstained from the eight-month strike of ASUU.
He added that the the Medical and Dental Consultants Association (MDCAN) had in a statement corroborated this on Nov. 4.
The association said in the statement, “Realising the emergency situation in the sub-region, worsened by emerging public health threats, we abstained from the strike.
“The medical and dental lecturers in UDUS decided to continue the academic activities during the ASUU strike to save our healthcare from total collapse.
Consequently, the ministry dismissed the accusation of selective treatment in payment of salaries to ASUU members, urging the media to crosscheck their facts to avoid feeding the public with the wrong information.
However, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the ASUU President, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that members of the union were shocked when they received the half salary payment.
According to Osodeke, we cannot understand what is going on. How do you pay people who are just resuming from a prolonged strike half salary.
“Well, what we need to do, is to sort it out with the Minister of Labour and Employment,” Osodeke said.