Controversy trails lecturers’ sack in federal universities

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The recent sack of some lecturers in some federal universities in Nigeria has been trailed with controversy.

While the government claimed that the lecturers got sacked because they were sacked because their employment was illegal, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) condemned the action.

The academics affected are already being owed their salaries for between two and five months before the development became pronounced.

ASUU accused the government of forcefully enrolling lecturers on the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) platform and attributed that to the said sacking of those described as contract lecturers.

The union alluded to the situation at both the Bayero University Kano (BUK), and the Federal University Wukari, where the purported sack of “contract lecturers” had already been carried out.

Officials at BUK said that 30 staff members were affected by the development but it is not yet clear how many of those at FUW were affected.

ASUU warned that such moves undermined the university autonomy to recruit competent local and foreign scholars, as was the global practice.

The ASUU National President, Biodun Ogunyemi, stated these in an interview with Punch Newspaper, adding that lecturers at the University of Maiduguri, and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, had yet to receive their February and March salaries.

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Ogunyemi said, “There are still two universities which had not got their salaries – Michael Okpara University and the University of Maiduguri. What we also suspected has now been confirmed; they forcefully moved our members to the IPPIS and consequently, contract staff have been sacked. And the disengagement of the contract staff is a disservice to the Nigerian university system as we have it today.

“The first problem with that is that it is going to rob our universities of the high calibre human resources in certain areas. These are areas where we have a scarcity of personnel. If I ask you, how many professors of neurosurgery do we have in Nigeria? I don’t think they are more than five, and universities have to produce neurosurgeons.

“These are the people who have to train a new crop of academics because it takes a professor to produce a professor. So, when you dispose of their services, you have cut off that chain of continuity.

“The disengagement has started in Federal University, Wukari, and the BUK, Kano. By doing that, IPPIS is creating a problem by appropriating the powers of the council in terms of employment, promotion, and disengagement of the people in the system.”

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Reacting to ASUU’s comments, the Federal Ministry of Education justified the action saying that the government needed to reduce the huge personnel costs that burdened universities.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Mr Ben Goong, said, “I don’t know what they meant by expert hands. IPPIS is being implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning. They have nothing to do with the employment of staff in universities.

“By October and November 2019, universities engaged so many staff; they were fraudulent about staff engagement and a university that has 5,000 staff will say they have 7,000 staff and you have this huge personnel cost that was pushed to the universities. Virtually, most universities are guilty of this.”

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