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Some Nigerian university lecturers said they are facing serious economic hardship after being denied their salaries for two months for refusing to enrol in the federal government’s centralised payment platform.

Their situation has been compounded by the lockdown of the economy over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had last month declared an indefinite strike over the federal government withholding the salaries of its members who defied the order of government to enrol in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPIS).

ASUU responded in March by declaring an indefinite strike, while the government closed down all schools as part of the measures to contain COVID-19.

Checks by our correspondent revealed no sign that the impasse would be resolved soon as the last meeting between the lecturers and the government ended in a stalemate.

The coronavirus crisis has since shifted the attention of the government and the public away from the dispute with ASUU with the teachers who are not being paid mostly bearing the brunt of the stalemate.

Findings reveal that many of the lecturers are finding it difficult to cope with the lockdown without their salaries.

Some of those who spoke with our correspondent said they were living on debts or depending on family members and friends, while others said they had to cut their spending.

A lecturer in the Department of Adult Education at the University of Ibadan, Olusola Omoregie, saw an irony in the federal government giving palliatives to “faceless Nigerians” while refusing to pay the salaries of “over 20,000” academic staff in federal universities.

“I have not been paid for the past two months and there is no sign that I will be paid again in April. Something has gone wrong if the government gives palliatives to the ‘poor’ but refused to pay the salary of over 20,000 academics in Nigerian federal universities. No sane society treats its intellectuals like this. The bone of contention is IPPIS, which is being discussed between ASUU and FGN.

I have six dependants including my wife, who is also an academic; children and aged parents. At this time of COVID-19 stay at home, the government continues to give palliatives to faceless Nigerians without any consideration for its academics. What are they telling future generation if this government treats intellectuals like this?”

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said that members of the union had to cut their expenses in order to survive at this period.

ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, Ayo Akinwole, spoke on the economic hardship his colleagues are facing in this period of coronavirus lockdown without two months’ salaries.

Mr Akinwole, a professor, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said members had to cut their expenses in order to survive this period.

“Everybody will know how to cope, we have been coping, we have to cut our expenses. Like I said, our members have been coping within the limit of their resources.

“We have been indoors but our members who are medical personnel are up and doing, contributing their quota at this period.

“Well, the issue of non-payment of salaries is one which workers in Nigeria have to battle with. But, our members are up to the task. We are saying no to the IPPIS. The government is paying lip service to education and health and that is the result we are seeing now.”

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