THE Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to embark on strike over the sharing formula of the insitution’s allocation of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), Premium Times reports.

The online publication quoted the Chair of OAU ASUU as stating that it is only awaiting the directive of the national leadership of the union.

The management of the university has absolved itself of complicity in the delayed disbursement to the academic staff, saying the factional crisis between ASUU and its splinter group on the campus – Congress of Universities Academics (CONUA), and their conflicting positions on the disbursement, have been responsible for the delay.

The university said the fund to be disbursed is available and that it is only awaiting consensus between the two groups so that disbursement can commence.

The chairman of ASUU on the campus, Adeola Egbedokun, told Premium Times that the union will embark on an indefinite strike as soon as it receives a nod from its national leadership. “We have commenced the process of obtaining permission,” he said, adding that despite the university confirming the receipt of the funds from the government since December 13,2021 and subsequent submission of its computation to the university on December 22, 2021 the management has so far failed to pay the lecturers.

ASUU, OAU chapter, had at its congress on Tuesday, agreed to embark on an “indefinite and comprehensive strike,” accusing the university’s vice-chancellor of undermining its struggles.

According to a statement released after Tuesday’s Congress, the resolution of the congress included the rejection of any move to verify the list of members submitted to the university by the union for payment.

The statement reads in part: “Constitution of any committee to be set up by the university administration to “verify the correctness of all claims submitted by members of Academic Staff of the university as regards the Earned Academic Allowance’, should be rejected since there was no such instruction in the accompanying documents from the NUC on EAA disbursement.”

“That the ultimatum of Friday, 7th January 2022 given to the University Administration to pay EAA into the accounts of all deserving members of ASUU, OAU expired without concrete action (payment of member’s EAA) from University Administration,” the union added.

The university’s public relations officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, said the delay was as a result of an internal wrangling among the academic staff.

He said lecturers will receive their payment as soon as the two parallel unions resolve their issues.

According to him, since they are all academic staff, it will be unfair to listen to only one party in the disbursement of the allowances.

A clarification message Mr Olarewaju sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday read in part: “The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is not holding on to the money in any way and we are ready to give every eligible member their entitlement.

“…the university management has paid the non-teaching unions but because there is a disagreement between the members of the academic staff which the University Management wants them to resolve and come up with a common position. And when that is done, the University Management will release the money and give every eligible academic staff their due.”

For about three years now, a breakaway faction from ASUU, under the umbrella of the Congress of Nigerian Universities’ Academics (CONUA), has consistently accused ASUU of high-handedness, dictatorship and refusal to accommodate dissenting opinions.

Since its formation around 2019, its national president and chairman of the OAU branch, Niyi Sunmonu, in an elongated telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, said its members spread across 17 universities in the country.

Describing it as a product of members’ quest for fairness, justice and responsible leadership, Mr Sunmonu, a PhD holder in Physics at OAU, said based on dues paid by members, there are about 650 members among roughly 1,400 academic staff of the university.

He said his members had met with the university management and suggested acceptable sharing formula for the disbursement but ASUU has insisted on its stance, which he noted failed to recognise its members.

He said: “About N768 million was the amount released by the government for the academic staff on the campus, and the dispensation for EAA started in 2008/2009 session. So CONUA suggested that 50 per cent should be used to offset part of the outstanding between 2008 and 2013 academic sessions out of the outstanding estimate of about N1 billion.

“We also said 35 per cent of the remaining 50 per cent should be used to offset claims of academics between 2013/2014 and 2015/2016 sessions while the remaining 15 per cent should be for post 2016/2017, 2018/19, 2019/2020 academic sessions.

“The merit of this proposal, as far as we are concerned, is that those that are no longer in service as a result of retirement or death, those that are just recruited and those who have been in the system since then would all benefit.”

He said the allowance is not for every academic staffer but for those who are deemed to have done excess work as contained in the agreement signed between ASUU and the federal government in 2009.

However, CONUA said it later found out that ASUU had suggested to the university to deduct about N30 million from fund to be paid into the union’s pension company- Nigerian University Pension Management Company (NUPENCO), while another roughly N80 million is earmarked for other ASUU members whose details have not been collated.

The CONUA leadership added that based on evidence at its disposal, the compilation by ASUU is fraught with irregularities, and that if there is nothing to cover why should a union be afraid of verification by the paying authorities.

While CONUA accepts the idea of claims verification by the university management, ASUU said it would not entertain such a decision because neither the government nor the National Universities Commission (NUC) accompanied the fund with such instruction.

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