This is the worse time to be a vice-chancellor – Salami

Lilian Salami, Professor of Home Economics and Nutrition at the University of Benin (UNIBEN)

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, UNIBEN, Professor Lilian Salami has lamented the pitiable situation of the country vis-a-vis university leadership.

According to her, this is the worse time to be a Vice-Chancellor as universities are currently not well-funded.

She was speaking on Friday at the second Regular Zonal Executive Council Meeting of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities SSANU, South-South, held in UNIBEN.

She said that Nigerian universities vice-chancellors could spend up to N1 billion weekly, without any tangible projects to show for it.

Professor Salami lamented the present economic period is not the best period for anyone to be a vice-chancellor, adding that members of the university had labelled her “manager of Araldite company”.

“Until I became the vice-chancellor, nobody could have told me that on that table, you can spend N1 billion in a week and yet, you cannot see something quantifiable to show for it,” Professor Salami said.

According to her, “It is always one roof is blown, there is no light, there is no water, there is no road, there is no anything.”

Speaking on how members of staff of the university perceived her, Salami said, “Most of them call me the manager of Araldite company. You know what Araldite does? It is the glue. So it is good that you will educate them at the end of this meeting, to tell them that this is the worst time for anyone to be a vice-chancellor.”

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“Because one is truly working with the slimmest resources that can be available to any CEO. And it is not just the University of Benin; but all public institutions, which of course you are also part of. You know we are not being funded in the university well. What we are getting is just a salary, which is good. But you still have to drive the system,” the vice-chancellor bemoaned.

Salami, however, expressed confidence in the ability of the SSANU leadership to explain the predicament to their members, hoping that “by the time you finish with them, I will be a worker in the Araldite company and not the Managing Director”.

IPPIS improverishing us – SSANU

Meanwhile, SSANU has lamented that the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) into the university payroll system had further impoverished its members in the university community.

The National President of SSANU Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, made the claim in Benin, at the 2nd Regular Zonal Executive Council meeting of SSANU, South-South, held at the Akin Demo Hall of UNIBEN, lamented that Nigerians were told a different story about what IPPIS is actually about.

According to him, due to the implementation of IPPIS, several allowances the association’s members are entitled to are being denied, adding that they could no longer access the money they made through their multi-purpose co-operatives.

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According to him, IPPIS had denied vice-chancellors of universities the ability to employ even a single member of staff, this making a mess of the much talked about university autonomy.

“No vice-chancellor can employ a single staff today in our universities. If vice-chancellors can no longer employ a single staff, then where is the university autonomy”? He queried.

“For us as a union, our highest predicament presently is the continuous denials of our members’ privileges and rights by the Federal Government of Nigeria. We signed an agreement with the Federal Government in 2009, going to 11 years now, less than 10% of that agreement has been implemented.

“Our allowances are being taken for granted. The contribution we make through our multi-purpose corporative, the money is not accessible. This gives us doubt about the anti-corruption fight professed by this government. And the worst, this money is not remitted.

“Our members are seriously suffering financially and economically because of the mutilation we are witnessing in our salaries. When we key into IPPIS, it was with a clear vision. Our leaders then told us that this is an opportunity where university staff will have it easy accessing their salaries, but what we are seeing today is contrary,” Comrade Ibrahim lamented.

Speaking on insecurity bedevilling the nation, Comrade Ibrahim said the university community is no longer safe for its members, just as he lamented that many of the university staff had fallen victim to kidnapping or armed robbery.

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He recommended that government should empower universities security staff with licensed arms and ammunition and to also retrain them so that they could stand the insecurity challenges in the university community.

“The university environment is no longer safe. So many of our members have fallen victim of either kidnapping or armed robbery, to other dared devil criminal activities, thereby making life so difficult, and that is why we have been advocating that government should license our security personnel in the universities and the university management should be empowered to train these staff so they can carry arms and protect the university community.

“We have been pushing this. You can only work when you are secured. You can only work when you are alive. And because of the strategic role we play in the university community, we cannot continue to suffer at the hands of these criminals. And we are urging the government to ensure that protection is given to the university community,” he said.

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