As the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) enters its seventh month, the union has insisted on the payment of the salary backlog to lecturers.
Speaking in an interview, the ASUU president, Emmanuel Osodeke, maintained that without the move, unfinished academic sessions should be forgotten.
He further explained that that though public varsities have been shut since February, the lecturers should be paid since they have to teach to make up for time lost during the closure.
“Let me tell you the difference between ASUU and other labour unions. When other unions go on strike and come back, all those periods for which you are on strike, you don’t need to do the backlog of work,” the ASUU chief explained.
“But for ASUU, when we go back today, we are going to start from the 2020/2021 session. For these two sets of students that have been admitted by JAMB, we have to teach them over these periods to ensure that we meet up with the system.
“So, we are going to do the backlog of the work we have left behind. We are not going to start today and say ‘This session is 2022/2023, therefore, all these two sets of people that have been admitted by JAMB are cancelled. We have to take another admission for the 2023/2024 session’.”
According to him, if the government maintains its stance on the non-payment of salary backlog, members of the union are not obliged to make up for the lost academic time.
“If we agree on that, therefore, the lectures we should have given [to students] for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 [sessions], they should be allowed to go so we start a new session 2022/2023 within September which is when a new session should start,” Professor Osodeke added.
“Therefore by July next year, I would go on my leave as we used to have in those days so that the backlog is gone. All the lectures that remain; all the two sets of admissions that JAMB has given that are waiting should become irrelevant.”
He said that ASUU does not need a pity party over the government’s withholding of the lecturers’ wages, maintaining that the union “can take care” of its members.