Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has expressed dismay that lecturers of the state-owned Umaru Musa Yar-Adua University (UMYU) joined the prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The governor said his administration was adequately funding the university, with prompt payment of lecturers’ salaries, as well as providing infrastructure and the enabling environment for academic activities to thrive in the institution.
Masari, who spoke while addressing former members of the state House of Assembly at the Government House, said he was bitter that the lecturers joined the strike despite the government’s efforts at revamping and sustaining the varsity.
He said some state governments have stopped paying the striking lecturers and were threatening to sack them but his administration is paying them every month in spite of the meagre resources accruing to the state.
The governor noted that the government had also implemented the federal government’s approved minimum wage for the lecturers and other workers on the payroll of the state government but wondered why they decided to join the strike.
He said: “From 2015 to date, the state has been generating only N2 billion as revenue. The highest amount we got for the past seven years and three months of this administration is N7 billion and that was last month. How much is our wage bill?.
“But that does not stop us from paying the salaries of workers in the state. Find out from other states; some of them are paying salaries in percentage and some are not even paying their workers. Some have not even implemented the minimum wage.
But we have implemented the minimum wage. That is why I am bitter about the issue of ASUU strike because there is nothing that we have not done to these lecturers and the institution (UMYU) where they work.”
Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly has threatened to stop the salaries of the striking lecturers if they fail to resume work after the expiration of a three-week ultimatum given to them.
The House Committee Chairman on Higher Education, Hon. Shamsudeen Abubakar Dabia, told journalists that the assembly has issued a three-week ultimatum to the union with effect from September 5th.
Dabia, who represents Danja constituency in the Assembly, said failure to resume work by the lecturers at the end of the 21 days’ ultimatum, the assembly will order the state government to stop their salaries.
The lawmaker explained that the assembly took the unanimous decision following a report presented before it by the committee during its plenary last Wednesday.
But the ASUU chapter in the institution on Friday stated that the Assembly has no constitutional power to issue any ultimatum or stop the salaries of its members because of the ongoing strike.
The ASUU chairman of the UMYU, Dr. Murtala Abdullahi Kwara, said the union has constitutional backing and it is legit for its members in the university to join any industrial action embarked upon by its national body.
He enumerated lack of proper funding, payment of Earned Academy Allowances (EAA) and over-taxation as some of the challenges bedevilling UMYU lectures that the state government has not tackled.
He, however, admitted that the state government was paying salaries of the striking lecturers in the state up-to-date, but insisted that the union under his watch had no plan to pull out of the struggle.