SSANU Ends Warning Strike, Urges Government Action on Outstanding Salaries

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The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has officially concluded its seven-day warning strike to allow the government more time to address critical issues.

During a virtual stakeholders forum organized by the Education Writers Association of Nigeria (EWAN) in Lagos, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, the president of SSANU, announced the end of the strike. The forum, themed “Withheld Salaries vs Labour Crisis,” also featured Mr. Ibeji Nwokoma, President of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational And Associated Institutions (NASU).

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the affected university labour unions had directed members to go on strike on March 18 due to the four-month withheld salaries and the non-implementation of the agreement reached with the Federal Government in 2009.

SSANU’s decision to suspend the warning strike aims to provide the government with an opportunity to address the outstanding salary issues and honor the agreements made with the university staff. The association continues to advocate for fair treatment and the fulfillment of obligations to ensure a conducive working environment within the educational sector.

“We had a meeting with representatives of the Federal Government in Abuja on Wednesday, and nothing tangible came out concerning the issue.

“Yes, they acknowledged the fact that we were on strike and that the action had paralyzed activities on campuses of federal universities.

“So, the meeting was nothing but an appeal to suspend the strike while they do something as soon as possible.

“Now, just imagine a situation where there is no water, no light, no mobilisation of graduates for NYSC, which are all responsibilities of our members in universities.

“The strike will end by midnight. We’ll go back to our various branches to review the outcome of the warning strike, as well as the recent meeting with the federal government, and from there agree on the next line of action.

“We have given a window to do the needful, and failure to meet their own side of the bargain will be met with drastic action, “ he said.

“We have the right to go on strike once we follow the due process. It could be a warning strike, just like the one that is ending this night (Sunday).
“We are not asking for anything outside our rights. We cannot continue this way, because after all, we too are humans, we are also parents, with bills to pay and mouths to feed,” he added.

The union leader blamed the present state of things on the government’s attitude towards the education sector.

He said that members of unions were using strike as a last resort to drive home their demands, considering the impact it normally had on the students.

“It is not that the university workers, including SSANU, like to go on strike; it is the government that always pushes us to apply that sanction. It is unfortunate for the government to take serious matters with levity.

“No one can stifle us, or stop us from voicing out our pains.

“We could picket our working places. We could also report to work without working, and so forth.

“All are lawful in the labour law. So, nobody can take them away from us.
“Members of our various unions are very critical in the running of any given university system. We should be taken seriously whenever we make demands, like our counterpart union in the same system.
“We deserve to be treated equally. There should be no preferential treatment. For government not to have paid us the withheld salaries like our sister union, ASUU, is a great disservice to us.

“I want to say that we will continue to fight against this injustice until the right thing is done,” he stressed.

He said that the best way to prevent incessant strikes in the entire education sector was to fund it adequately.

“If you spend well on education, you spend less fighting insecurity, hunger, poverty, and others. The government should take a cue from other climes.
“So, the panacea to ending crisis in Nigerian universities, in fact, in the entire sector, is funding and more funding,” he further stressed.

Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, the President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), highlighted the tragic consequences of the ongoing struggle for government action. Ibrahim revealed that many union members had lost their lives in the past year and a half due to insufficient funds to access adequate healthcare.

In addition to the healthcare crisis, Ibrahim expressed deep concern over the lack of autonomy within the university system. He emphasized that this issue was hindering the smooth functioning of the academic institutions.

Calling for reform, Ibrahim urged the government to prioritize merit-based appointments for vice chancellors and principal officers in universities, particularly at the federal level. He strongly opposed the practice of ‘godfatherism’ in such appointments and stressed the importance of fair and transparent selection processes.

Furthermore, Ibrahim emphasized the need for similar merit-based criteria in the selection of members for governing councils across all universities. These calls for reform aim to improve governance, transparency, and efficiency within the higher education sector.

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