Maiduguri, Awka, Umuahia, Bauchi, Abuja — Many lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are reportedly struggling to make ends meet following non-payment of their salaries.
Earlier, ASUU had downed tools over over non-payment of salaries after refusal of some of its members to enroll onto the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) under the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).
Soon after, President Muhammadu Buhari directed immediate payment of lecturers' salaries, yet, the OAGF was said to have requested for the BVN of the lecturers. Also, the OAGF had explained in a press release why deductions in the salaries were made.
In the interim, some lecturers said they were living off their savings because of lack of salaries. At the University of Maiduguri (Unimaid), lecturers said they had not received February and March salaries.
An Associate Professor of Geography in Unimaid, Muhammad Abba Jimme, said, "It has not been easy for us at all; especially for us with families to cater for. We have resorted to raking in however little from whatever resources we can access and other legitimate devises to make ends meet," and added that most lecturers relied on stipends from state universities where they served as visiting scholars.
The Unimaid ASUU Chairman, Prof. Dani Mamman, said, "We knew we were going into a strike and we are going to lock horns with government; we made a four-month preparation for the situation."
The spokesman of Unimaid, Ahmed Tanko, said some employees were not paid their salaries due to the absence of some vital information like date of birth, pension payment and a few others, and that the affected lecturers were asked to fill IPPIS forms where they included the vital facts.
The ASUU Chairman of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik), Awka, Com. Stephen Ufoaroh, said it was very painful that some lecturers were not paid for some months.
Com. Ufoaroh said, "We are suffering due to the non-payment of our salaries, even against the president's directive to pay all ASUU members," and added that with the lockdown restrictions many lecturers could not source alternative means of taking care of their families and that there were cases where a husband and the wife were working in the same university with both not being paid.
He accused the Federal Government of trying to use divide and rule to break the rank and file of ASUU to accept IPPIS.
The Head of Information of Unizik, Mrs. Chika Gladys Ene, said she did not have information about salaries and referred our reporter to the university's bursar; who could not be reached.
Prof. Sebastian Uremadu of the Department of Banking and Finance, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, said the government needed science to discover drugs and vaccines to cure COVID-19 and resolve all problems created by the pandemic, and that as "university lecturers are left without salaries is not proper."
Prof. Uremadu further said, "Some of us are trapped in the town; we could not go to our villages, even to do farm work; if you plant a crop today it will take time before you harvest it. We have exhausted all our savings, families are living in pain; some may be depending on their families, friends and wives for survival during this period."
The university's PRO, Mrs. Adanma Odeffa, said everybody was aware of the ongoing face-off between ASUU and the Federal Government, but that the president had given instructions that they should be paid, and added that, "I assume it's a technical thing, and the university was left out. I am sure the disagreement will be resolved."
The ASUU Chairman of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Dr. Adamu Babayo, told Daily Trust that the union was yet to identify the cause of the non-payment of salaries despite the directive of the president.
Dr. Babayo said, "There is no genuine reason for non-payment of lecturers from any of the parties because even if you ask the university officials they will refer you to Abuja, and we do not have any contact in the IPPIS office in Abuja. The ATBU management has sent the required documents to the office responsible for the payment in Abuja, but there is no positive response. Despite the president's directive to pay before Sallah, they have not paid yet."
He explained that some lecturers at ATBU were battling to get what they needed to survive and that many had to fall back on their savings while others had engaged in menial jobs to survive.
ATBU's PRO, Dr. Andy Eheme, said, "The issue is under the IPPIS office in Abuja, and I remember, last month the VC sent us a WhatsApp message sympathising with the condition of lecturers.
"I am one of the affected lecturers, and the last time I received my salary was in February, 2020. The situation has changed our way of living because we are getting used to it."
The Director of Information, Press and Public Relations at OAGF, Henshaw Ogubike, said in a press statement that the non-receipt of salaries after payment arose because the names on the payroll were not in uniformity with the names in the banks.
Ogubike explained that employees were expected to update their bank details in conformity with names on the payroll as changing payroll names in the banks was not allowed, except where there was a change of name as a result of marriage. He added that the IPPIS platform did not recognise joint accounts operated by two or more persons.
He further explained that, "With BVN, all account numbers of the tertiary institutions that are sent to IPPIS were forwarded to the relevant agencies for validation and confirmation. About 1,180 failed the BVN test and details have been forwarded to the universities for necessary corrections and update."
ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said by telephone yesterday that government had promised to resolve the matter with the bursary departments of the affected universities; yet, the lecturers have not been paid.
He said all essential documents were made available to the OAGF.
He said, "We do not know why they are holding back on our members' entitlements. We are not going to take it lightly. We see it as an act of sabotage."