…demand forensic audit reports on allowances from 2013
The Joint Action Committee of Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has accused the Federal Government of promoting corruption in the university system.
Handing down its February 5 strike notice at the weekend in Abuja, the unions decried the practice of simply allocating earned allowances in percentages to unions without verification, rather than the norm of releasing funds to bursaries of various universities to coordinate how much was owed each university and paid accordingly.
Addressing newsmen, the JAC led by the General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi and the National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, said ideally, earned allowances should have been embedded in salaries and implemented immediately, but government’s procrastination had led to a heavy accumulation of arrears, which has made repayment a challenge for government.
He said: “The first tranche of arrears of earned allowances was paid in 2013, about four years after the agreements were signed.
This payment was made through the Councils of the various universities, while the university managements, through the Registrars and Bursars, being custodians of all personnel and payroll records, were available to guide the Councils in the disbursement of the funds to eligible and deserving staff who earned the allowances.
“When the second tranche of N23 billion was released in 2017, the Federal Ministry of Education allocated the disbursement in clear breach of the laws and autonomy granted universities – 89 per cent in favour of ASUU, leaving only 11 per cent to the three non-teaching unions.
“The Councils of the universities were sidelined, while inter university centres were totally excluded. It took the strident intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, before a supplementary though inadequate amount of N8 billion was released to cater for part of the shortfall granted to the non-teaching unions.
“Despite our protests over the surreptitious release of 2017 and the strident apologies from officials in the Federal Ministry of Education that such would never repeat itself, another release of N25 billion was made via a memo from the same federal ministry dated 18th June, 2019, wherein it was expressly stated that ASUU be allocated 80 per cent of the funds while the other three unions of NAAT, NASU and SSANU be allocated 20 per cent.
Again, the Councils were sidelined while inter university centres were excluded. “Now, the Federal Ministry of Education officials released the fund to unions in the universities.
How do you determine what is owed universities A and B? What are the yardsticks used to disburse the money? What accountability steps have been put in place to ensure the right people were paid and the right amount was paid?
The Federal Government, by so doing, is promoting corruption in the universities.” Aggrieved with government’s treatment of the nonacademic staff, the unions have demanded the forensic audit reports of all earned allowances released from 2013 till date, to show the legality of decisions taken by the ministry’s officials.
“Till date, we keep raising concerns about the implications of these irregular disbursements and sharing of funds by the Federal Ministry of Education because it erodes the autonomy of the universities since the payments were not done through the Councils of the universities as required by law.
“Similarly, the allocation formula, which did not abide by any known justifiable accounting practice, was done without the inputs of the Registrars and Bursaries of the universities, who are custodians of personnel and payment records.
“Lastly, the audit reports of previous disbursements had not been released and, as such, the N25 billion released was not the outcome of any forensic audit report.
“We challenge the government officials behind these surreptitious releases and allocations of funds to provide evidence of the forensic audit report(s) that guided their decisions and make bold to say that their decisions were not guided by any audit report, is an illegality and smacks of corruption.”