By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
THE Federal Government has started processing the withheld salaries of some medical lecturers in various federal universities who opted out of the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The development is sequel to a letter by the medical lecturers, under the aegis of Medical and Dental Consultants Association, MDCAN, to the Ministers of Education, Labour and Employment, and Finance, Budget and National Planning, requesting for the payment of their withheld March-June, 2022 salaries.
The affected lecturers are from University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UMTH, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, ATBUTH, and the Usman Danfodiyo Teaching Hospital, UDUTH.
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning who preferred anonymity, confirmed to our correspondent that approval had been granted for payment of the lecturers.
According to the source, the approval was granted because the medical lecturers harkened to plea by the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians for ASUU to stay on duty while negotiating with the Federal Government.
The source said: “We are processing the payment as approved by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning. Our target is to get the salaries paid immediately workers return from Sallah holiday.”
Meanwhile, more medical lecturers have defied the ongoing ASUU strike to resume work in their various universities.
A new letter by the MDCAN, ATBUTH chapter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, indicated that some clinical lecturers have been working throughout the period of the strike. The letter entitled, “Request for Payment of Withheld Salaries,” was signed by the Chairman of MDCAN ATBUTH, Dr Yakubu B. Sharma and Secretary, Dr Rufai A. Dachi.
It reads: “We hereby write to humbly request for the payment of withheld salaries of our members from March 2022 to June 22. These members are clinical lecturers who have been working throughout the period of the ongoing ASUU strike.
“Kindly find attached the list of the affected staff with their details duly endorsed by the Provost, College of Medical Sciences, ATBU Bauchi and the Vice Chancellor of the University.”
Although our correspondent could not reach the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige by the time of filing this report, a source in his Ministry confirmed the report.
On the ongoing strike, our source in the presidency where the report of Prof. Nimi Briggs Committee awaits the decision of the President, said no fewer than four of the issues in dispute had been fully thrashed out, while the two outstanding matters of payment platform and renegotiation- were being tackled.
“The striking lecturers received the Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment arrears in May. The issue of visitation panels to the universities has been laid to rest, same with the Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances.
“Work has been accelerated on the testing of the payment platforms by NITDA and the renegotiation of the conditions of service, especially the increase of salaries and allowances. Government is doing its best . However, the truth is that the economy is in dire straits.”
He noted that the economy of many countries was facing severe challenges, citing neighbouring Ghana where University Teachers Association embarked on strike for just one week and resumed immediately to commence negotiation with their government. He added that some lecturers had confided in the presidency that if government could make reasonable adjustment in their salaries , most of them would return to work.
He said after all, there were other academics in the polytechnics with Ph.D. and Masters degree who receive less.