Lapai, (Niger) – Academic Staff Union (ASUU) of IBB University Lapai, says it has commenced an indefinite strike, due to the nonpayment of its N530 million outstanding allowances by the Niger state government.
Dr Salahu Lawal, ASSU Chairman, IBB University Chapter, said in an interview in Lapai, on Saturday that the decision was taken after the expiration of the week-long warning strike embarked by the union on March 7.
He said that the chapter executives were invited by the state government over the issue but they were unwilling to pay the allowances that had accrued since 2009.
“Niger state government begged us that it will pay N350 million while we forfeit N150 million; we cannot afford such a loss, it is huge.
“This is the money we worked for and it has to be paid us in full; actually, they wanted to pay us but they insisted in paying N350 million; that is a breach and we are not going to take it.
“This money we are asking for is accrued money from our allowances, this money we earned it, we are not begging for it.
“They said they do not have money to clear the backlog, we are not going to accept their offer. They want us to forfeit part of the money we cannot because some of our members died while waiting for this money.
”I am sure if they had paid this money, some of them would have used it for their medical care and may not have died,” he said.
Lawal said that the children of the deceased were anxiously expecting the money to off-set a lot of debt they incurred and called on the government to have a rethink and do the needful.
“We have a moral burden not to negotiate on this matter because many of our members have died while waiting for this money,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jide Orintunsin, Senior Media Assistant to Gov. Abubakar Bello, said that the debt was not incurred by the present administration rather; it was inherited from the previous administration.
According to him, members of the union were not being reasonable in view of the financial challenges of the administration was dealing with.
“We have many competing issues jostling for financial attention, these issues are many and we are trying to do something with the little resources we have.
“We will pay but in phases, they should bear with us and accept in good faith what we are willing to pay now,” he said.
Bello who appealed to ASUU to sheath their sword, said that continuing the strike does not augur well for the educational system.
He however, urged them to reconsider the offer of N350 million. (NAN)