ASUU Ultimatum: Lecturers demand overdue salaries or face nationwide strike

ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has issued a stern warning to the Bola Tinubu administration, stating that if the government fails to pay public university lecturers their overdue salaries within the next two weeks, they will be forced to take drastic action.

ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke expressed his dissatisfaction with the current situation, emphasizing that it is unfair for the Federal Government to have paid lecturers only four months of their 2022 withheld salaries while withholding the remaining three-and-a-half months.

Osodeke, who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, stressed that the government's actions are unacceptable and that ASUU will not hesitate to initiate a nationwide strike if their demands are not met promptly.

The union leader urged the administration to prioritize the welfare of university lecturers and ensure that they receive their full salaries without further delay.

“It’s not about paying four months out of the seven-and-half months’ withheld salaries,” a displeased Osodeke said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday, May 16, 2024. He argued that public universities in the country have so far covered the work for the period that they were on strike in 2022 and should be duly paid.

“Every university in Nigeria today are in the 2023/2024 academic year, which means that by September/October, they will be in the 2024/2025 academic year. The implication of this is that all the work for which we were not paid when we were on strike, we have covered them by making sacrifices.

“None of our members have gone on leave in the past three to four years, we have not gone on vacation so that we can cover the work that we didn’t do while we were on strike which we have covered. You can check, ask the students. But when you said you are paying four out of seven-and-half, I don’t think you are being fair to us,” the ASUU president stated, adding that the two-week ultimatum to the government began on May 13, 2024. 

In 2022, academic and non-academic unions in Nigeria embarked on an eight-month strike to press home some of their demands, including a better welfare package. The administration of then President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently invoked a ‘no work, no pay policy’ against the unions but President Bola Tinubu, in October 2023, approved the release of four of the about eight months withheld salaries.

ASUU members were paid four months of the withheld salaries while members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) were not paid at all. The two non-academic unions were on strike earlier in March while Education Minister Tahir Mamman said the government would consider half pay for them.

Osodeke said ASUU members must be fully paid for the entire period of the industrial action in 2022. He submitted that the Tinubu administration has not done lecturers any favours by clearing four of their about eight months’ withheld salaries.

The impending strike action, if implemented, could have a significant impact on the education sector, potentially disrupting academic activities and causing inconvenience to students and their families.
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