By Michael A.
The strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU in Benue State University, BSU may be far from over as fresh revelations and issues have emerged.
The union which have been on strike since early March this year are making fresh demands of payment of an additional two months salaries and clarification on the issue of earned allowances.
Recall that last Tuesday, the state governor, Dr Samuel Ortom when he received final year medical students of the institution, disclosed that the government had met ASUU’s most basic demands of payment of May and June salaries but all that seems to have been over taken by events, according to the union’s chairman, Dr David Ikoni who spoke to BENUE.COM.NG.
When asked about rumours of the strike being called off, he said it was on and if it was called off, he’ll be the first to know.
“(The strike has been called off) By who? You are hearing from me now, I’m the chairman of ASUU BSU. if they call it off, I will know. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve not called the strike off.”
When asked about the government’s claim of meeting their basic requirements to call off the strike, the chairman said things had changed since those demands were made. That they now demanded payment of an additional two months salaries (March and April), since the state had received a bailout from the federal government for that purpose.
“You see, we are dealing with politicians, if he says he has met the basic demands of the union, the time they asked him for the basic demands has been overtaken by events.”
“At that time (the federal) government had not given them bailout money to pay salary arrears. Now government have given them money to pay salary arrears. So we are waiting for him to pay our March and April salaries with that bailout money.”
Dr Ikoni refuted rumours that he was not reachable and was refusing to pick the Governor’s calls, saying he was always available, day and night.
“That information is false, my line is open. How did you get across to me that the whole chief executive cannot get across to me?”
On the issues of earned allowances which hitherto was not imminent as a cause of the ASUU strike, He said they now needed clarification as to why their colleagues in some part of the university were being paid and others weren’t.
“I called the chief of staff on Sunday, I told him about a pending problem in BSU, that even if they pay salaries, that will affect resumption. That pending issue is the payment of EAA (Earned allowances) to the college of health sciences.”
“As I’m talking to you now, our colleagues in college of health sciences and non-academic staff have been paid their earned academic allowances. The rest of the section of the university have not been paid. That was on Friday the 10th of July. On the 12th of July, I called the chief of staff to intimate him of this development so that they will see how they’ll address the issue but he cut me off.”
“We want them to make a statement that this is the condition that led to the payment of EAA in the college of health sciences and then convince us. Are we not part of the university? Are we not entitled to that EAA? We need explanations, these are issues.”
The state governor, Dr Samuel Ortom had last Tuesday expressed optimism that haven paid May and June salary, ASUU would call off before the week ran out.
“I’m looking forward that within the week, I should have a positive response from ASUU. So, on our part we have met all the requirements with the limited and scarce resources that we have.”
He also said the government had received N2.7bn from the LNG account which was not enough for even one months salary but promised to clear other arrears with the bailout from federal government.
“Just last Friday, I directed that, well, the auditing can still continue, but let’s go ahead and pay. We can do the verification in the month of July and if by the grace of God, when we have a bailout from the federation government, we can now clear the arrears of salaries.”