The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has pushed for the payment of the professors’ unpaid salary backlog, arguing that without it, incomplete academic sessions should be ignored.
Despite the fact that public universities have been closed since February, according to union president Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, lecturers should still be paid because they are required to teach to make up for the time lost due to the shutdown.
Osodeke made these comments during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast program, Sunrise Daily, in response to the government’s insistence on withholding payment from the academics due to their industrial action.
“Let me tell you the difference between ASUU and other labour unions. When other unions go on strike and come back, all those periods for which you are on strike, you don’t need to do the backlog of work,” the ASUU chief explained.
“But for ASUU, when we go back today, we will start from the 2020/2021 session. For these two sets of students admitted by JAMB, we must teach them over these periods to ensure that we meet up with the system.
“So, we will do the backlog of the work left behind. We will not start today and say, ‘This session is 2022/2023. Therefore, all these two sets of people admitted by JAMB are cancelled. We must take another admission for the 2023/2024 session’.”
He contends that union members are not required to make up for the missed academic time if the government upholds its position about the non-payment of salary backlog.
“If we agree on that, therefore, the lectures we should have given [to students] for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 [sessions], they should be allowed to go so we start a new session 2022/2023 within September which is when a new session should start,” Professor Osodeke added.
“Therefore, by July next year, I would go on my leave as we used to have in those days so that the backlog is gone. All the lectures that remain; all the two sets of admissions that JAMB has given that are waiting should become irrelevant.”
He asserted that ASUU “can take care” of its members and that the union does not want a pity party over the government’s refusal to pay the lecturers’ salaries.