The president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, has explained why the union refused to hold meeting via Zoom platform with the Federal Government’s representatives, saying such meeting would not yield any tangible result as it would be difficult to control.
He gave the reason in an exclusive interview with Tribune Education on Tuesday.
According to him, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, invited the union to a meeting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, as a response to their last official correspondence to him where the union rejected submission of their Bank Verification Numbers as a condition for payment of lecturers’ outstanding salaries.
“But we could not go because of the current lockdown due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic in the country. And the minister then suggested that we should meet via Zoom platform. But we know that such meeting cannot yield any positive result when most of our physical meetings in the past ended in stalemate,” he said.
While noting that the union is waiting for normalcy to return in the country to enable them hold the physical meeting, Ogunyemi acknowledged that government has indeed paid salaries of some members of the union, but not all.
“Many of our members are yet to get their salaries as of Monday, and some of those who had even been paid were not paid in full. We are collating data to enable us know those affected,” he said.
He said though that salaries are not their major demand from the government but implementation of the last Memorandum of Action to re-engineer the nation’s public university education.
The ASUU president said no member of the union submitted BVN before payment of their salaries.
“We knew submission of our BVN would lead to our forceful participation in the Integrated and Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the Federal Government and we still stand against the policy,” he declared.
Ogunyemi, who teaches at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, said the bursary department of each university handled the payment of their salaries using the existing records, and therefore could not understand why total compliance with the unconditional directive by President Muhammadu Buhari (to pay outstanding salaries) was not carried out.