You surrounded yourself with saboteurs, SSANU tells Tinubu - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, March 7, 2024

You surrounded yourself with saboteurs, SSANU tells Tinubu

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, has told President Bola Tinubu that he should be aware that he has saboteurs in his government, who are bent on frustrating his good intentions.

SSANU also told the government that its members are not slaves and should be paid when they fulfill their contractual obligations, adding that they will continue to agitate and down tools if there is no positive response from the government on their agitations.

National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, stated the above in his remarks at the 47th National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the union at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Ondo State.

Recall that President Tinubu had recently directed that university workers who were on a prolonged strike in 2022 and were not paid by the Muhammadu Buhari's administration within the period of the strike, should be paid four months of the withheld salaries.

While members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, have been paid for the four months, the non teaching staff including SSANU have not received anything, a development that is threatening industrial harmony in the public universities.

Speaking in his remarks, Comrade Ibrahim urged President Tinubu to purge his administration of saboteurs and replace them with people that are ready to help him deliver on his mandate.

According to him, "The President should understand that he has saboteurs in his government. They are not helping him and the powers of the President and what will make him responsible and responsive to Nigerians is to hire and fire, work with people who can deliver. 

"You cannot continue to keep cabal within the system. And you say one thing tomorrow it's sabotaged. As a union we raise our voices that presidential pronouncements must be matched with action. We cannot continue to celebrate and clap over speeches. What we want is action. 

"Workers in the universities deserve the best. We churn out young men and women to work in the industry to work for government to be on their own. And I have the course to say that if you spend well on education, you will spend less on insecurity, you will spend less on health challenges, you will spend less on other issues. But when you don't spend on education, you will continue to spend on defense on insecurity and other frivolities. 

So people should understand and our leaders should know that governance is not a child's play. If you're a leader you must be responsive. We have course also to complain about how our state universities are treated."

The SSANU President said his members are not slaves and can never be, adding that they have a calling and a contract with government and their employers to execute whatever they have agreed to do.

He said, "We do the work that we do. If we work and you don't pay (us), we agitate. If we agitate and you don't respond, we must go on strike because it's lawful and it's within the ambit of the law and within our rights."

He said that the Nigeria economy is in a bad shape which has resulted in the currency being valueless.

"Our economy has completely nosedived. Our currency has become valueless, as our Naira can no longer or is no longer respected, even within Nigeria. Therefore, we are having some of the greatest challenges of having to even feed ourselves, our families and meet up with the domestic needs and challenges within our families. 

"Therefore, as a union, we are adding our voice to the progressives of this country. We call on our leaders to put on their thinking caps. We cannot continue to do something the same way and expect a different result. The history of this country clearly shows that yesterday is always better. And I don't think this is how it should be. 

"As workers in the universities, we have continuously lamented that funding remains the panacea to the operations of any citadel of learning. You cannot establish a university and then starve it of funds. Education is not only a social service, but it is a service that requires continuous expenditure especially at the level of tertiary education. Universities must be given money in order to operate. 

"To the crux of the matter, we are all living witnesses to the recent, most unfortunate development that has befallen workers in the federal universities. Recall that on March 27 (2022),  all our public institutions, both state and federal, went on strike because of the deadlock that we had in the discussions with government. And we declared trade dispute and for two months running. Nobody even cared to call us for any discussion until when they saw that it was serious. That was when we discussed with government. 

"And as gentlemen, as people who believe that miracles can happen. We thought we should believe them. We sat with them, we negotiated and agreed and signed documents, including the non victimization clause. But what do we get at the end? Our salaries were stopped and that government left with that draconian action. 

"We welcome this new government on May 29. And the President displayed leadership by playing the role of a father by giving a waiver on the crisis that we have had on the issue of our four months salaries. This was in October 2023. One month later, we had an engagement with the Minister of Education and his lieutenants. 

"We discussed and he gave us convincing remarks that that waiver and the approval was for all tertiary education unions at the federal level. And we left that meeting happy and we reported and it was in the press. November, December, January, February. What did we get at the end of the day? We now found ourselves in a situation where all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. 

"Our colleagues were paid four months, those in the academics. We are happy for them, we are also asking government to even pay them the rest. But we never saw anything. Those of us that are in the non teaching section. So we were taken aback. We engage government. And we were told and we also saw that the presidential approval was for every member of staff working in the public federal universities."

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