June 3, 2023

Deborah Tolu-Kolawole

The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Thursday accused the outgoing Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige of deliberately trying to cause division in the ranks of the union by selectively paying the eight months withheld salaries of some medical lecturers at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka.

The ASUU chairperson, UNIZIK, Dr. Peter Ufoaroh in a statement jointly signed by the General Secretary, ASUU, UNIZIK, Dr. Peter Okoye, urged Dr. Ngige to “purge himself of personal animus towards ASUU.”

The Reportr Door had earlier reported how the salary arrears of 204 medical lecturers at UNIZIK were paid following intervention by Ngige.

The minister in a letter addressed to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, noted that the lecturers ought to be paid for working during the period when ASUU declared its eight months strike in 2022.

However, ASUU in the statement accused Dr. Ngige of “personal bias.”

The statement read, “The attention of the ASUU NAU has been drawn to the false claims by the Minister of Labour and Employment,  Dr. Chris Ngige that ASUU members in three faculties of the institution namely: Basic Medical Sciences, Basic Clinical Sciences and Medicine did not partake in the 2022 ASUU national strike.

“The claim by Dr. Chris Ngige that lecturers in the aforementioned three faculties did not participate in the strike is totally false, misleading, dishonourable and unworthy of a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Dr. Chris Ngige has cajoled his colleagues in the medical field into the ignoble act of claiming that they were on duty during the pendency of the strike in an effort to split the ranks of the union. Lecturers in these three faculties ought to realise that as intellectuals, they have a divine responsibility to defend the truth. The absolute truth is that there was no teaching and consequently, no examination was conducted throughout the period of the struggle.

“Dr Ngige’s incurable phobia for ASUU has eclipsed his sense of decency and he has gone ahead to pay his colleagues and probably kinsmen the eight months arrears of salaries without any verifiable evidence of the work purportedly done during the period.

“This obvious action of ‘divide and rule’ bespeaks the usual (Dis) honourable Minister’s insensitivity to the plight of universities in a country where every institution and every household has become a municipality.

“It is sad and most unfortunate that Dr. Chris Ngige and his collaborators have continued in their shameful and ignoble acts against the growth of public Universities even at the twilight of their administration. All lecturers at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, participated in the 2022 ASUU National Strike, Period.

“For the records, there are concrete and verifiable pieces of evidence from memos and publications from the university that counter the false and trumped up claims of the minister, as evidenced in various memos of the university administration relating to the closing and re-opening of the University consequent upon the strike. Chris Ngige needs to purge himself of personal animus towards ASUU.”


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