Withheld salaries: SSANU threatens ‘drastic action’ following seven-day strike

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities has called off its seven-day warning strike over withheld salaries, vowing “drastic action” against the government.

Mohammed Ibrahim, president of the association, made the announcement at a virtual stakeholders forum hosted by the Education Writers Association of Nigeria (EWAN) in Lagos on Sunday. Ibeji Nwokoma, president of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational And Associated Institutions (NASU), was also in attendance.

On March 18, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of impacted university labour unions urged members to lay off after four months of withheld salaries and the failure to implement the agreement they reached with the federal government in 2009.

“We’ll go back to our various branches to review the outcome of the warning strike, as well as the recent meeting with the federal government, and from there agree on the next line of action.

“We have given a window to do the needful and failure to meet their own side of the bargain will be met with drastic action,“ he warned.

He noted that it was no longer news that the government would make promises only to renege on them, citing the 2009 renegotiation agreement as an instance.

“We have the right to go on strike once we follow the due process. It could be a warning strike…No one can stifle us, or stop us from voicing out our pains. We could picket our working places. We could also report to work without working and so forth.

“All are lawful in the labour law. So, nobody can take them away from us. We are not asking for anything outside our rights. We cannot continue this way because, after all, we, too, are humans. We are also parents, with bills to pay and mouths to feed,” he explained.

He said that union members were pained to use strike as a last resort to drive home their demands, considering the impact it normally had on the students.

“So, the panacea to ending crisis in Nigerian universities, in fact, in the entire sector, is funding and more funding,” he stated.

He noted that since the struggle by members of the various unions to get the government to do the needful, many of them had lost their lives in the last one and half years due to lack of funds to access good healthcare.

Mohammed also decried the issue of non-autonomy in the university system, adding that the situation was affecting the system’s smooth operation.

He also urged the government to ensure that the appointment of vice-chancellors and principal officers of universities, especially the federal ones, should be based solely on merit rather than through what he described as “godfatherism.”