CONUA urges FG to implement workable Policies to alleviate the suffering of Citizens


Mar 1, 2024

By Mercy Akuba


The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has called on the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to gear up and address the numerous economic challenges being faced by its workers across the country.

The Union recalls several promises made by Tinubu’s government in a press statement signed by the national President of the Union, Niyi Sunmonu and made available to Newsmen on Thursday to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerian workers occassioned by the removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the Naira but noted with dismay that these promises made by the government have not been fulfilled.
The Union also noted that, salary of staff of tertiary institutions has remained stagnated for awhile and called on the Federal government to implement the 35% and 23.5% salary increment for staff of tertiary institutions through a memo from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) dated 14th September 2023 which is to be effective from January 2023.
The statement reads :

“The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has once again reviewed the state of the nation and notes the excruciating pains Nigerians have been suffering as a result of the removal of fuelsubsidy since 29th May, 2023 and subsequent policy of floating the Naira.

“The first review and press release was made on Monday 7th August 2023. The union further notes that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has assured the nation that a series of measures are being put in place to alleviate the suffering of the people. CONUA urges the President to expedite action on those measures to sustain the patriotic zeal of the citizens.

“The Union commends the Federal Government for setting up a tripartite committee to consider the minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

This, in our view, is to improve the salaries of Nigerian workers, which have remained largely stagnant while cost of living has been galloping, in order to bring significant succour to workers, motivate deep commitment to service and remarkably stimulate productivity.

“CONUA therefore demands that the committee to conclude its work quickly and the government effect its outcome to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers.

The Union wishes to convey its appreciation to the Federal Government for effecting the payment of four months out of the seven and a half withheld salaries of academics in Federal Universities as a result of strike action embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“Our Union, CONUA, has consistently maintained that it never declared and was not part of any strike action. What the government had done was to lump together those who embarked on strike with those who did not! This will give the impression that the Federal Government does not appreciate other measures other than strike to pursue the demands of academics!

“This against the judgment delivered on 25th July, 2023 at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), which affirmed CONUA as an independent Union. Since CONUA neither called for nor joined any strike, withholding the three and a half months salaries of members of the Union contravenes Section 43 (1b) of the Trade Disputes Act CAP. T8,which states that “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remunerations for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment”. This provision is consistent with global best practices.

“In conclusion on this, CONUA demands that the process of paying these outstanding months be kick-started immediately in order to ensure lasting peace in our ivory towers.

“Of special interest in this regard is the remuneration of academics that has remained virtually stagnant since 2009 in spite of steady rise in inflation. In addition, the implementation of 35% and 23.5% salary increment for staff of tertiary institutions through a memo from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) dated 14th September 2023 and to be effective from January 2023. CONUA finds it appalling that one-year after the directive; it has not been implemented even in the face of excruciating suffering of Nigerian academics brought about by inflation.

“CONUA therefore calls for the implementation of this directive and also demand for the constitution of a negotiation committee, without further delay, that will include all academic unions in the university and other stakeholders to negotiate the upward review of emoluments of academics in Nigerian Universities while taking into account the current realities created especially by the fuel subsidy removal.

“Financially debilitated, psychologically challenged and dispirited lecturers cannot be expected to sustainably engage in the mentally-tasking and physically-exhausting tasks of teaching, research and community service which constitute the mandate of academics.

“This point is particularly quite critical in the light of the unprecedented developmental challenges, which are being created and will be created by the innovative measures that are being put in place by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.

“Finally, CONUA notes with appreciation President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s declaration of the commitment of his administration to enthrone University Autonomy.

“It is in the light of this commitment that we call on him to correct the error of dissolution of the Governing Councils of Federal Universities without reference to the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003 which is also referred to as the Universities Autonomy Act No. 1, 2007.

“Section 3(2A) of the Amendment Act states as follows with respect to the tenure of Governing Councils:

“The Council so constituted shall have a tenure of four years from the date of its inauguration provided that where a Council is found to be incompetent and corrupt it shall be dissolved by the Visitor and a new Council shall be immediately constituted for the effective functioning of the University.”

“It is our belief that the action of correcting the errors will negate the unintended impression that the government is unappreciative of the invaluable services of the distinguished Nigerians some of whom were literally begged to put their wealth of experience at the service of the Nation’s educational system.”

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