The National Association of Nigerian Students has described as “wicked, selfish, and insensitive,” the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU)’s demand for payment of the six months salary arrears for the period its members were on strike.
The union has included the demand as part of its conditions for calling off the strike which they embarked upon over six months ago.
Other demands are provision of funds for the revitalisation of public universities; payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA)/Earned Allowances (EA); payment of salary shortfalls; an end to the proliferation of state universities, renegotiation of a 2009 agreement and adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university teachers.
The Federal Government had earlier restated its position of a ‘no work no pay’ insisting that ASUU had no reason to demand pay the period it stayed out of work.
NANS said on Thursday that ASUU’s desire to get the payments for its members portrayed the union as pursuing a narrow interest of members under the cover of fighting to revamp the education sector.
The president of NANS, Sunday Asefon, in a statement made available to journalists in Ado- Ekiti, said NANS had since the commencement of the strike advocated in favour of ASUU but said the current demand by striking lecturers was not only disappointing and frivolous but represented the pursuit of narrow interest.
The students’ leader advised the lecturers against acting like employers even when they are employees, saying it flies in the face of law to be demanding payment for services they didn’t render.
“However, we condemn in totality, the insistence of ASUU on the payment of a six-month arrears salary for the entire period of the strike before they can call off the strike,” he said.
“This demand is not only insensitive; it is also selfish, inconsiderate, and uncharitable.
“The six months are periods of no work. As much as we encourage the government to pay their arrears irrespective, it is unfair to base the resumption of academic activities on full payment of the arrears.
“We have also, unfortunately, noticed that since the beginning of the strike, ASUU had refused to put the students who are the major losers into consideration whatsoever.
“They have hidden from us the major areas of contention. Every other stakeholder, except ASUU, has met with us directly to discuss the issues.
“ASUU had masqueraded some of their interests as the interest of tertiary education in Nigeria, and at some point masqueraded their interest as the interest of the students. We know that ASUU is less concerned about the interest of the students because of our experiences with them at our various tertiary institutions.
“University authorities have used ASUU members and leaders to expel, suspend and rusticate students for merely protesting for improved welfare. They expel and rusticate students for protesting for basic needs such as water, power, habitable hostel accommodation, etc.
“ASUU members arbitrarily failed students for questioning their positions or opinions and sometimes for asking too many questions. These same people cannot suddenly turn around to claim they are fighting for our interest, our interest they trample upon at every given opportunity at our various tertiary institutions.
“We believe that if the government has met substantially major areas of their demand, ASUU should tread the path of honour by calling off the strike. We no longer believe that this continuous strike is fashionable, reasonable, justifiable, and necessary.”
The NANS leader added that demanding six-month salary arrears before calling off the strike was akin to “kidnappers demand their ransom before releasing their victims.”
The Federal Government had said the demands by the union to be paid salaries for the six-month strike period were stalling its negotiations with it.
It said the union would not be paid for the period of the strike.