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FG, universities head for showdown

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The federal government and members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) may be heading for a showdown over the decision of government to hands off the payment of salaries of worker of staff schools set up by federal institutions across the country.

Chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) Chief Richard Egbule announced at a media briefing in Abuja, on Wednesday that the federal government would no longer be responsible for the salaries of workers in such schools.

But National President of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, had told journalists in Abuja that the government’s decision would contravene an earlier agreement reached between government and relevant associations in 2009.

The agreement, he said, was that government would continue with the funding of recurrent and capital expenditures of universities’ staff schools.

According to him, “An institution (the National Universities Commission), that is supposed to advise the government rightly is not doing so. We are calling on the government to do the needful and what is right. This is the last warning and you will not hear from us again until we take action because strike is imminent,” he threatened.

However, Egbule said government should not be responsible for the payment of such salaries because of its overbearing effect on the budget.

Part of the mandate of the commission includes monitoring the wage sector and advising the Federal Government on the fixing and regulation of workers’ salaries and other remuneration as well as the control of personnel costs.

Egbule, said, “I would like to appeal to staff unions not to distract the new government with unnecessary demands. The government has stopped payment of salaries of members of staff in the primary and secondary schools in these tertiary institutions and the decision is final,” he said.

He recalled that in an agreement signed between the Federal Government and SSANU in November 2009, it was clear that universities should bear the full capital and costs of both staff primary and secondary schools, while parents of pupils and students should bear the recurrent costs.

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Egbule said that in the course of its inspection, the commission observed a trend in which government-owned institutions charge the funding of staff schools established by them to government treasury.

This, he said, contributed to the overbloating of the recurrent cost in government budget.

To correct the situation, the commission said a study it carried out in 2013 to ascertain the number of staff schools in the country revealed many disturbing trends.

“Fourty eight did not have staff schools, 21 funded their staff schools from their internally generated revenue, while 51 funded theirs from federal treasury budget sources by hiding the staff lists of such schools as part of the institution’s authentic members of staff”, he said.

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