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2018 budget: SSANU flays FG over 7.04% budgetary allocation to education sector

2018 budget_ SSANU flays FG over 7.04% budgetary allocation to education sector

Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), has expressed displeasure over the 7.04 per cent budgetary allocation to the education sector in the 2018 budget estimate presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the joint session of the National Assembly a fortnight ago. The Non-Academic Staff Union also threatened to resume the nationwide strike if the Federal Government fails to fulfil its obligation on the payment of Earned Allowances, stressing that the ultimatum of October 2017 has elapsed.

The Association raised the concerns via a communiqué issued and co-signed by Samson Ugwoke, SSANU President and Salaam Abdussobur, SSANU Public Relations Officer at the end of the 32nd National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Association which called for the implementation of the 23% of the yearly budgetary allocation to education in line with UNESCO recommendation, called on National Assembly ensure upward review of the allocation. “NEC-in-session commended President Buhari led government for its effort in ensuring the early passage of the 2018 budget. NEC noted that this move would improve the budgetary and planning processes of the country.

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“SSANU, however, notes with great disappointment, the meagre allocation of 7.04% allotted to the education sector. SSANU observes painfully, that the Buhari administration has not departed from the misplaced culture of giving priority to capital projects at the expense of developing its manpower. “If the Nigeria of today is to bequeath a legacy of development for tomorrow, Government needs to get its priorities right by ensuring education receives larger allocations. “SSANU NEC expresses its disenchantment with the budget allocation to education and advises that it is not too late for reviews to be made,” it read.

While reacting to the breach of the recent agreements reached during the negotiation which led to the suspension of the nationwide industrial action, the Association which urged the government to always establish a worker-friendly environment, accused the present administration of contempt of court on the reinstatement of teachers of University Staff Schools. SSANU said, “NEC in session regretted the failure of the Federal Government to implement all the components of the agreements it voluntarily entered into with the University-based Unions. It is worthy of note that the Earned Allowances which Government promised to implement which was one of the bases for suspending the Nationwide JAC strike in September 2017 is still pending.

“NEC urges the Federal Government to expedite action on the payment of Earned Allowances as the ultimatum period of October 2017 signed in the Memorandum of Understanding has elapsed. This is necessary to forestall the possibility of resumption of another nationwide strike on the same matter. “SSANU shall not be held liable if at the end of the day, the Memorandum of Understanding is breached by the Government and the Union is forced to resume its suspended strike to press home its demands.

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“NEC is dismayed and condemns in strong terms the prolonged delay in producing the necessary circular specifically directing University administrations to include the staff in the University Staff Schools in the personnel payroll systems of Universities. “NEC views this as a departure from the promise of the present Government to respect the rule of law. While urging the Federal Government to immediately restore the status of the Staff Schools as declared by the Court, SSANU NEC commends University administrations who have gone ahead to implement the National Industrial Court judgment without delay, giving respite to our long-suffering members in the Staff Schools.”

While reacting to the recent policy of ‘No work, No pay’ issued by Federal Government, “NEC in session frowns at the recent proclamation of ‘’No work, No pay’’ by the Minister of Labour and Employment and strongly advises the Minister to play his part in removing those impediments that force unions to embark on strike, observing that Unions do not go on strike without reason.

“NEC in session further advises the Minister that, rather than threatening workers and taking a belligerent posture, he (Chris Ngige) should ensure that the Nigerian labour environment is more worker-friendly and agreements entered with trade unions, which could precipitate strikes, are respected and honoured,” the Association said in the communique.

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja