The federal government on Friday defended the implementation of its 'no work-no pay' policy against the striking university lecturers. The lecturers, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, have been on strike for over three months demanding that government implements the 2009 agreement it had with the union.
ASUU confirmed the stoppage of their salary after a zonal meeting of the union in Abuja on Thursday. "The Federal Government has through the National Universities Commission (NUC), directed universities to stop the payment of our salaries effective September this year and since then our salaries have not been paid," Clement Chup, ASUU Zonal Chairman in Abuja, said.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the NUC, its spokesman defended the directive, saying the commission was only applying extant laws. The Deputy Director of Information and Public Relations of the NUC, Ibrahim Yakasai, said the directive was not a policy but a law that affects all sectors of the economy, adding that it had been in the constitution for a long time.
"It's a law in this country that if you don't work you will not get paid. But the government was magnanimous enough to pay their salaries for a month or two when they started the strike. After everything that has been done, (the lecturers) don't want to go back to work; so, the law must be applied," he said. Mr. Yakasai lambasted the lecturers for collecting salaries in the first place while on strike.
"Let's watch and see how far they can go with this strike. In any case, why would anyone want to pay someone that is not working? Should they even have accepted the salaries in the first instance? In fact, what are salaries for? It's for work to be done," he said. The acting Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, declined to react on how such policy would help in resolving the dispute with the university lecturers. Mr. Wike, through his spokesman, Simeon Nwakaudu, referred PREMIUM TIMES to the NUC.
"Anything concerning universities is at the National Universities Commission, NUC, and you may wish to talk to their Director of Media. The ministry is supervising, but (the NUC) do direct implementation of issues concerning universities and they will give you detailed information at that level," he said. The lecturers have vowed to continue the strike despite the government's directive.