The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Lagos State University, LASU Chapter, has demanded the payment of accumulated Earned Academic Allowance, EAA unpaid since 2009 to lecturers in the institution.
The union’s demand is captured in its bulletin obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos.
The demands, signed by its Secretary, Tony Dansu and the Assistant Secretary, Adeolu Oyekan, indicated that the EAA was a product of the ASUU/Federal Government Agreement of 2009, which redefined the minimum benchmark for university administration in Nigeria.
ASUU-LASU said that the Lagos State Government and LASU’s administration had since then implemented the agreement in breach of the agreement, as it remains the only university yet to pay any fraction of the allowance throughout the country.
“The EAA, it should be noted, was part of the negotiated emolument of academic staff whose payment was deferred by the university when it started to implement the new salary structure.
“No one in his wildest of imagination expects the university to accumulate the allowances spanning a period of over almost a decade,” it said.
According to the union, ASUU-LASU under different leaderships made a case for the payment of the allowances so that the university avoids an accumulation that may in the future prove burdensome.
It said these plans were ignored by successive administrations and as at January 2016 when the current Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun assumed office, the arrears had already spanned to about 6 years.
The union said it had raised the issue with the current vice-chancellor and forwarded components of the allowances to him when he suggested that the university had no understanding of them.
“This has since followed numerous reminders but the vice-chancellor has not for once responded and it is on this basis that the union executives decided in line with congress directive to take the case to public domain,” it said.
The union noted that the ongoing renegotiation between ASUU and the Federal Government had to do with the need to improve the conditions agreed to in 2009 which was long overdue for review.
According to ASUU-LASU, the ongoing renegotiation has nothing to do with the implementation of the subsisting agreement as claimed by the vice-chancellor in one of his bulletins.
The union said the disregard that the university administration had exhibited toward its own academic staff was the reason why it remained the only university yet to pay any fraction of the allowance.
ASUU-LASU, however, reassured the staff of its readiness to meet, dialogue and explore reasonable pathways geared toward ensuring payment of the long overdue allowance.
Reacting, the university’s spokesman, Ademola Adekoya, told NAN that the issues of the unpaid EAA predates the tenure of the current vice-chancellor.
“The unpaid Earned Academic Allowances predated the assumption of Fagbohun to office and has been lingering since 2009 when the Federal Government agreed with ASUU that the allowances will be paid.
“Since then, nothing was paid, before the vice-chancellor was appointed in 2016, and when he came on board, he met a lot of unpaid salary arrears, denied promotions and that became his priority.
“He cannot just come and begin to pay earned academic allowances and leave promotion and salary arrears unpaid,” he said.
Mr Adekoya challenged ASUU-LASU to name Nigerian universities that had paid the EAA to a reasonable amount, as many of them were even struggling to pay salaries as when due.
“How many universities have been paying the EAA in Nigeria? Most of them are struggling to pay salaries.
“The demands of workers in other universities is for their salaries to be paid as when due, as workers in some universities are even collecting half salaries so they are not talking about earned academic allowances for now,” he said.
Mr Adekoya disclosed that the vice-chancellor on behalf of the university administration was not refusing to pay the allowances but was only requesting that things be prioritised so that workers salaries could still be paid regularly.
“The vice-chancellor cannot take a unilateral decision of paying the allowances. The state government will have to increase the subvention of the university for all the unpaid allowances to be paid,” he said.
Also, a bulletin signed by Mr Fagbohun, in reaction to the union’s demands also reiterated the commitment of the current university’s administration to staff welfare and development.
“This is evident in the timely payment of monthly salaries, bonuses, arrears and conduct of promotion exercises since the inception of the current university administration.
“In recent years, we have made so many bold decisions and taken several risks within the scope of possible resources and capacity to ensure that LASU staffers get the very best out of their service to the university.
“We equally understand the need for us to constantly do more, not only in the area of ensuring the payment of EAA but also in other aspects that are related to the welfare of our very respected colleagues,” he said.
Mr Fagbohun said the EAA had been one of the flashpoints of the nationwide ASUU strike in recent years.
He said as a result of the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and the national leadership of ASUU, a number of issues at the national level had yet to crystallise.
The vice-chancellor said the outcome of the issues was expected to serve as a basis for active engagement between the leadership of state universities and the local chapters of ASUU.
“Very distinguished colleagues, our university was built on laws and processes.
“We must always give ourselves the opportunity to first engage with our governing council which will in turn engage with the Lagos State Government and our Visitor. The EAA is already a front-burner issue,” he said.
Mr Fagbohun urged the university community to continue to guard the image of the institution jealously and not to give room for any form of wrong tactics or ill-managed strategies that may take it back to the dark old days.