By JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA — IMPLEMENTATION of the agreement between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, may have to be delayed as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters, Aloysius Etok, has said that the ongoing negotiations between the duo would be null and void without the input of National Wages and Salaries Commission.
Senator Etok stated this during an oversight tour of the Commission. He said that under no guise should the Federal Government negotiate salary or wage increase without the input of the relevant commission.
He attributed most of the incessant industrial actions in the country to sentimental negotiation for salary increase in the civil service.
He said: “We have said this earlier that on no account should Federal Government negotiate salary increase or anything that has to do with wages or salaries without the input of the Commission.
“They should avoid the issue of sentimental increase or negotiation and there should be no exceptions. Four months is about a semester.”
Etok further stated that the commission was expected to have played a prominent role in the 2009 agreement reached between the Federal Government and ASUU.
The Etok-led committee also demanded explanations from the commission on how the 2013 appropriation was implemented and why the impact of the commission was not felt on civil servants salaries crises that threaten some sectors of the economy from time to time.
He lamented the withholding of part of the 2013 budget of the commission, stressing that the commission required funds to carry out its research-based projects, calling for its immediate release so that the commission can implement its budget to the full.
He said: “The commission might look small but the importance cannot be overestimated. We have come to know your level of im-plementation of 2013 budget.
“We also want to know the relevance of the commission to the Federal Government; why your impact is not felt in the salary problems across the country; why the commission would be there when ASUU is on strike for months and who guided the Federal Govern-ment in the agreement entered into with ASUU in 2009?
“You cannot be ruled out in the scheme of things in this country.”
“They allowed ASUU compute its own salary”
Also speaking, Chairman of the commission, Dr. Richard Egbule, exonerated the com-mission from the agreement reached between the Federal Government and ASUU.
He said: “The Wages Commission has been up and doing in everything concerning wages and salaries in this country.
“When the controversial agreement was reached in 2009, we were there but not as negotiators. We made it known to them that the route they were going was wrong. Today, I wish to say that ASSU did not go on strike because of salaries because we handled it very well.
“What is controversial was the excess workload allowance, but we have asked them to employ more lecturers to avoid excess workload.
“There has never been a time any agency was asked to go and compute its own salary, but they allowed ASUU to do so. We needed a structural increase where government agency would be factored in.”
Egbule noted with regret that successive leaderships of ASUU had established the culture of using industrial action to announce their arrival.
The Senate committee visited the National Assembly Service Commission, where the Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Umaru Fika, disclosed that N2.5 billion was appropriated to them in the 2013 fiscal year.