The National Universities Commission (NUC) has directed federal universities to reintegrate their staff schools on the national payroll.
This directive was communicated in a letter to the Vice-Chancellors of the universities noting that this should take effect from the draft of their respective 2020 budgets.
The controversial removal of the staff schools’ staff from the payroll is among the contending factors that led to the five-day national warning strike since last Monday.
Non-academics under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) jointly went on the industrial action, which also sought to ensure that their members were paid their earn allowances arrears and the renegotiation of the 2019 agreement between university unions and the Nigerian government.
EduCeleb.com obtained a copy of the letter dated 20th August, 2019 signed by NUC Director in the Executive Secretary’s office, Chris Maiyaki.
The universities regulatory body added that arrears owed to university staff primary schools should also be paid.
University staff schools excluded from ban
EduCeleb.com recalls the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) had in August 2014 ordered that all federal ministries, departments and agencies running staff schools should thenceforth remove the budgets of such schools from theirs.
The NSIWC chairman, Roland Egbule wrote in a circular to all federal ministries and agencies that his office regarded such establishments as “private enterprises”.
But the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), which partly represents staff of the staff schools in universities argued that this directive could not apply to them.
The union therefore approached the National Industrial Court which ruled in December 2016 that the NSIWC directive could not be applicable to the staff school teachers.
It took government authorities close to three years after the judgement to finally conclude on implementing it.
The NSIWC developed a document titled “Guidelines o the Implementation of the National Industrial Court’s judgement on Staff Schools of Federal Universities” in December 2017, a year after.
It was in February 2019 that the Federal Ministry of Education communicated the development to the Federal Ministry of Finance requesting the inclusion of the staff schools’ salaries and wages in their budgets.
The education ministry, however, maintained that the capital and recurrent costs of the staff primary schools and the capital costs of staff secondary schools would be borne by the universities.
Paying the arrears
In order to get the salary arrears, which staff schools hitherto were owed over the recent years since the NSIWC directive, the NUC advised the VCs to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Office of Accountant-General of the Federation for that.
The letter added that universities make provisions for these in their 2020 budgets.
Following the directive, SSANU is hopeful that its content would be implemented.
In an interview with EduCeleb.com on Saturday, SSANU National Public Relations Officer, Mr Abdussobur Salaam said even though the letter was a directive, it “does not translate to cash or to the arrears being owed the Staff School teachers.”
The SSANU chief said that other issues that led to the recent strike needed to be addressed soon to prevent another strike.
“We are however hopeful that we will not need to go on another strike to enforce the contents,” he added.