Nigeria: SSANU Tackles Hosf Over Alleged Usurpation of Varsity Council Powers

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, has expressed dismay over the alleged usurpation of Universities Governing Council functions by the Federal Government agents especially the Head of Service of the Federation, HoSF.

SSANU has also described as nullity the recent Education Summit organised by the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, saying that the summit did not involve some important relevant stakeholders in the university.

The non-teaching staff in the universities lamented the inflationary trend in the country with the purchasing power of the Naira being drastically reduced so much that every good in the market has been taken over by galloping inflation leaving many Nigerians groaning in abject poverty.

These among others were contained in the communique issued at end of the 42nd Regular National Executive Council, NEC, meeting held at the University of Calabar and signed by SSANU’s National President, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim.

The union also frowned at the non-payment of the four months’ salary arrears owed its members during the nationwide strike embarked upon by university-based unions over the alleged inability of the federal government to implement the 2009 Agreement with the unions as well as the controversy surrounding the use of Integrated Payroll and Payment Information System, IPPIS.

On the alleged usurpation of university council powers and functions, SSANU in the communique said, “NEC in session noted with dismay the ugly emerging trend of incursion and seizing of the powers and functions of the University Governing Councils by some agencies and offices of government.

“Statutorily, Council is the highest and final decision making organ in any University. It has been observed with grave concern that some overzealous Government agents are trying to truncate this process.

“For example, we now hear of circulars from the Office of the Head of Service (HOS) of the Federation, directing universities on how, when and the number of persons that should be promoted at any given time.

“It should be noted that at no time has the Head of Service been part of the promotion of staff of universities. Personnel decisions in the university system end with the Governing Councils, where a representative of the Federal Ministry of Education is also a member.

“NEC resolved that Councils of universities do their work devoid of interference by the Office of the HOS or any other agent for that matter. NEC clearly says no to the usurpation of the powers of Council in relation to the promotion of our members in universities and Inter-University Centres.”

On the high inflation rate in the country, “NEC in session observes with serious concern the inflationary trend in our Nation where the purchasing power of the Naira has been drastically reduced so much that every good in the market has been taken over by galloping inflation leaving many Nigerians groaning in abject poverty.

“NEC therefore calls on Government to re-gig its economic policies with a view to checking this hyperinflation to allow the poor and low income earners survive this untold hardship.”

Condenming the non-inclusion of SSANU to the recent Education Summit organised by the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the union said that it rejected whatever resolutions that were reached at the summit.

According to the communique, “The National Executive Council (NEC) in session observes with serious concern the ill-advised decision of the Speaker of the Federal House of Representative on ihis refusal to invite SSANU, a distinguished Union and undeniably major and critical stakeholder in the University system to the recently held Education Summit organized by the Office of the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.

“This action is not only disrespectful; it is a recipe for instability in the University system. Consequently, NEC resolved that the resolutions reached at that Summit are a nullity and stands rejected by SSANU since there was no input from her.”

Commenting on the withheld four months salary arrears during the nationwide strike, SSANU said, “NEC in session describes the action of FGN on the withheld four Month salary arrears during the nationwide strike embarked by the Union as insensitive and inconsiderate.

“It would be recalled that SSANU complied with all industrial legal protocol before embarking on strike when the Government reneged on its part of the bargain. It becomes totally amusing and distasteful that Government could, in spite of the glaring legal compliance by SSANU on this industrial action, still proceed to withhold the salaries of her members, whereas other institutions of higher learning that did not in any way comply with extant legal procedures before embarking on strike, still receive their salaries till date.

“NEC, therefore, views Government posture and position as unimaginably unfortunate. It therefore calls to urgently pay the said arrears in one instalment without further delay.

“In the same vein, NEC earnestly urges the Government to release the three-month withheld third-party deductions to affected Federal Universities. This becomes imperative as the delay is causing serious upsets and breaches to financial organizations in affected Universities.”

On the 2009 Agreement, “NEC in session is deeply peeved by the nonchalant and detached attitude of the Federal Government towards the long-standing issue of renegotiating the 2009 Agreement. Renegotiation of the Agreement is overdue by 12 years.

“This is against the statutory three (3) years agreed for periodic review. It is most disheartening and appalling the way Federal Government is handling the issue. We are seriously disturbed by Government’s reluctance, despite SSANU’s readiness in ensuring that this matter is urgently concluded. Since Prof. Nimi D. Brigg’s Committee was constituted, SSANU has earnestly offered itself for the renegotiation process.

“NEC therefore, demands the immediate resumption and conclusion of this exercise without any further delay as the content of the current Agreement has been eroded by the harsh economic situation occasioned by hyperinflation and its effect on workers.”

It said that the plethora of problems associated with the IPPIS payment platform has left many SSANU members devastated because of the recurrent disturbing haphazard salary payment, leaving many with inexplicable wages as monthly salaries.

“The quest for a solution to these problems has remained elusive and difficult, while Federal Government has remained adamant in insisting that it would use only IPPIS in payment of staff salaries.

“It is on record that the payment platform is fraught with the same corruption that Federal Government claims it wants to fight. It is also on record that the platform developed by JAC of SSANU and NASU (U3PS) is capable of addressing the issues we regularly complain of.

“NEC in session, therefore, urges the Federal Government to utilize the U3PS platform since IPPIS has continually failed to address the payment issues of university workers,” it said.

On the release of N50 billion for payment of outstanding earned allowances, “NEC in session deliberated on the promise of Government to release the sum of Fifty Billion Naira (N50b) for payment of outstanding Earned Allowances to University and Inter-University based unions. We urge the government to keep to their word and not go their normal way of reneging on its promises to avoid industrial dispute in the system.

“NEC also urges Government to include our members working in University Health Centres in payment of the new Hazard Allowance like their counterparts in other health organizations.”

On the hike in pump price of petroleum products, “NEC in session feels seriously agitated by unwarranted increase in the pump price and deliberate hoarding of the petroleum products.

“This avoidable situation has plunged innocent poor Nigerians into precarious economic situation, further increasing their hopelessness and frustration fuelled by economic hardship. NEC therefore demands the urgent reversal of the pump price to the old price of N180 at least to reduce the biting impact, especially during this yuletide season.”

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