FG denies payment of half salary to ASUU in October

The federal government has denied the accusation that it paid half the salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria (ASUU) in October.

Mr. Olajide Oshundun, Head of Press and Public Relations at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment, said so in a statement he signed on Saturday in Abuja.

Oshundun said the ministry was reacting to reports of alleged selective treatment and payment of half the salary to ASUU members.

He described both reports as grossly inaccurate, misleading and distorted facts.

He noted that ASUU members received their October pay on a pro-rated basis, not half pay, as widely reported in the media.

According to him, the pro rata was done because they cannot be paid for work not done.

He also said that the Minister of Labor and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, never ordered the Accountant General of the Federation to pay half the salaries of university professors.

“Following the decision of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the order of the National Labor Court of Nigeria (NICN), requesting the ASUU to resume work, the union leadership wrote to the Minister, the informing that it had suspended the strike.

“The Federal Ministry of Education has written to Ngige to the same effect and our labor inspectors in various states have also confirmed that they have returned to work.

“So the Minister wrote to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, ordering that their salaries be restored.

“They were paid pro rata to the number of days worked in October,” he said.

He added that from the day they suspended their industrial action, pro-rating was done because “you can’t pay them for work not done. Everyone’s hands are tied.

Oshundun also rejected a statement by President of ASUU, branch of Usman Danfodiyo University of Sokoto (UDUS), Muhammad Al-Mustapha, that the Minister of Labor and Employment was biased in paying salaries to certain professional members of the union.

“Those obviously mentioned by the President of UDUS ASUU are members of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association (MDCAN) who abstained from the eight-month ASUU strike.

“It was because they abhorred the incessant union strikes and their severe effects on medical education in Nigeria and the production of more doctors.

“To accuse the Minister of Labor and Employment of biased payment of salaries to certain professional members of the ASUU is a shameless misrepresentation of the facts.

“Mustapha said he received information that some of the College of Health Sciences (CHS) staff received seven months of their salaries withheld from March to September.

“He added that this was due to a letter written to the Minister of Finance, ordering the exemption of staff listed on the application of the ‘No work, no pay’ rule,” Oshundun said.

According to him, to set the record straight, the professors of medicine mentioned by the president of the ASUU UDUS branch abstained from the eight-month ASUU strike.

He added that the Medical and Dental Consultants Association (MDCAN) corroborated this in a November 4 statement.

The association said in the statement: “Aware of the emergency situation in the sub-region, aggravated by emerging threats to public health, we have refrained from striking.

“UDUS professors of medicine and dentistry have decided to continue academic activities during the ASUU strike to save our health care from total collapse.

Therefore, the ministry dismissed the accusation of selective treatment in paying ASUU members’ salaries, urging the media to cross-check their facts to avoid providing the public with misinformation.

However, ASUU President Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said union members were shocked when they received the half pay.

According to Osodeke, we cannot understand what is happening. How do you pay people who are just coming off half pay from an extended strike.

“Well, what we need to do is sort it out with the Minister of Labor and Employment,” Osodeke said.

NOPE

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Elaine R. Knight