Ngige, Oloyede Cause Outrage Over N8bn Earned Academic Allowance

Date: 2018-04-03

The National Executive Council (NEC) of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may decide on a fresh round of strike over roles allegedly played by the duo of Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), and Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity.

The two are in the eye of the storm over an alleged backdoor smuggling of two universities into the list of beneficiaries for the forthcoming N8 billion earned allowance largesse meant for the non-academic staff of universities. The two universities - University of Ilorin (Unilorin) and University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) - were left out of a second tranche of payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), after they failed to meet up with conditions stipulated by an Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC), comprising the Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC), and members of ASUU.

As part of the agreement reached by the Federal Government and the academic union for the payment of the second tranche of the EAA, it was decided that each institution was to forward details of its academic staff to ASUU headquarters after a detailed forensic audit of the list by the ministry and NUC. The move was to ensure that the money paid out by the government was truly earned by the academics.

UNN and Unilorin, however, declined to send their lists to ASUU on account of some outstanding disagreements with the national body of the union.

The Unilorin case was even more striking. The local branch had been factionalised in the last 15 years.

Attempts at mending fences by the national body have often been frustrated by the university administration and some senior academic members of the university who have been blacklisted by ASUU.

READ ALSO: Lagos APC Chairman Faces Sack Over Oyegun, NWC Tenure Extension One of these members happens to be Oloyede, a teacher at the university and later its vice chancellor.

As a result of this rancour, Unilorin and UNN failed to submit their audited lists to ASUU.

In turn, provisions were not made for the two universities when N23 billion of the second tranche of the EAA was paid out by the Federal Government to the universities.

The development created upsets in both institutions.

In Unilorin, for instance, academic staff who belonged to the management sanctioned faction of academic union began having a second thought on their renegade status.

To counter this, the university reportedly reached out to Oloyede, while UNN also enlisted Ngige, who graduated from the school’s Medical Science College.

As a way of effecting the payment, Oloyede and Ngige were said to have influenced the inclusion of both institutions in the N8 billion payment of Earned Allowances of Non-Academic Staff of Universities who recently suspended their strike.

Under the plan, the Federal Government is to source for the N8 billion to settle the earned allowance of striking non-teaching staff of universities.

The agreement was reached between the striking workers under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) and the Federal Government after two days of meeting.

The agreement was signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah; President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Comrade Samson Ugokwe; President of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), Sani Suleiman, and General Secretary of Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Peters Adeyemi.

The workers embarked on an indefinite strike on December 4, 2017 as a result of the failure of the government to implement some of the contents of the agreement of September 20, 2017 with JAC.

A copy of the agreement states: “Government is to source for N8 billion within five weeks to pay JAC of SSANU, NAAT, and NASU members and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), who did not get paid in the last disbursement exercise."

The arrangement, it was learnt, is an extra-budgetary requisition requested by the Ministry of Education made to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Of the said money, only N5 billion would be paid to the non-academic unions while the rest N3 billion would go to settle academic staff of UNN and Unilorin who were left out after the initial N23 billion was released for payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA).

But ASUU insiders who spoke to DAILY INDEPENDENT said it went against the agreed implementation process of paying the EAA.

Ngige and Oloyede as alleged by top members of the NEC of ASUU had prevailed on the Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) to smuggle the two universities into the list of the N8 billion earned allowance money for non-academic staff of federal universities who had to shelve their strike on account of the arrangement.

"This is quite wrong because there is an Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) put together by the Federal Government and ASUU, last year, as part of conditions that would allow for transparency in the payment of the second tranche of the EAA,” explained a highly placed member of the ASUU NEC in Abuja.

He, however, declined to speak on record because, as he puts it, there was still intense debate on the matter, whether to go on strike or not.

Majority members of the highest decision-making body of the academic union believe that Oloyede and Ngige’s actions speak volumes of the subterranean attempts by the government to further fragment ASUU.

For instance, Unilorin administration has not been remitting check off dues to the national body of the union, thereby starving the local faction of the union recognised by ASUU at the national level.

Neither Oloyede nor Ngige has agreed to explain their alleged roles in the matter.

DAILY INDEPENDENT attempted to speak to the registrar through Benjamin Fabian, spokesman for JAMB.

After speaking with Oloyede's police orderly, the JAMB spokesman said he would leave the paper with the orderly who in turn would facilitate speaking with Oloyede on the matter.

The arrangement never materialised after Fabian suddenly went silent, he stopped picking his calls and not answering text messages sent to his cell phone.

When a text message was sent to Nwachukwu Obidiwe, Spokesman for the Minister of Labour and Productivity asking the minister to clarify his alleged role in putting UNN on the list against duly arranged process, Nwachukwu responded, "Is it only UNN you heard, what of Ilorin (probably meaning Unilorin)?"

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