The Federal Government has explained the rationale behind the payment of half salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14. Following a series of discussions with the government, coupled with a court order, the university lecturers ended the eight-month-old strike and returned to their classrooms on October 14.
However, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had vowed to invoke the no work, no pay on the aggrieved lecturers who had pressed home for a better welfare package for their members.
True to the government’s stance, ASUU members were paid half salaries for October, a situation that drew criticism from both the varsity teachers and the newly registered Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA).
In a statement, the Federal Government said ASUU members were paid their October salary pro-rata, noting that they cannot be paid for work not done.
Spokesman of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, also dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.
“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the statement partly read.
“Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”
According to him, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, never directed the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the university lecturers half their salary.
The ministry equally faulted a statement by the Chairperson of ASUU, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) branch, Muhammad Al-Mustapha, accusing Ngige of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of the union.
Oshundun added, “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 him in a similar vein and our labour inspectors in various states also confirmed that they have resumed work.”