The Federal Government has formally hands off the payment of salaries of teaching and non-academic workers of staff schools in institutions across the country.
The National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission specifically said government should not be responsible for the payment of their salaries because of its overbearing effect on the budget.
Part of the mandate of the commission includes monitoring the wage sector and advising the Federal Government on the fixing and regulation of workers’ salaries and other remuneration as well as the control of personnel costs.
The announcement by the chairman of NSIWC, Chief Richard Egbule, during a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja came on the heels of threat by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities to embark on strike if the Federal Government refused to fund the schools which were said to have been established by the institutions.
“I would like to appeal to staff unions not to distract the new government with unnecessary demands. The government has stopped payment of salaries of members of staff in the primary and secondary schools in these tertiary institutions and the decision is final,” he said.
He recalled that in an agreement signed between the Federal Government and SSANU in November 2009, it was clear that universities should bear the full capital and costs of both staff primary and secondary schools, while parents of pupils and students should bear the recurrent costs.
Egbule said that in the course of its inspection, the commission observed a trend in which government-owned institutions charge the funding of staff schools established by them to government treasury.
This, he said, contributed to the overbloating of the recurrent cost in government budget.
To correct the situation, the commission said a study it carried out in 2013 to ascertain the number of staff schools in the country revealed many disturbing trends.
“Fourty-eight did not have staff schools, 21 funded their staff schools from their internally generated revenue, while 51 funded theirs from federal treasury budget sources by hiding the staff lists of such schools as part of the institution’s authentic members of staff.
“In some instances, the staff salary of such schools was placed on the salary structure meant for tertiary educational institutions, which is higher in quantum than the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure which has been costing the Federal Government about N4bn per annum,” Egbule stated.
The commission added that based on its findings, it issued a circular with reference number SWC/S/04S.446/T2/85 dated August 27, 2014” in which it stated that the policy was applicable to all staff schools meant for the children of the personnel of such institutions and other members of the public regardless of the nomenclature used.
The National President of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, told had journalists in Abuja that the government’s decision would contravene an earlier agreement reached between government and relevant associations in 2009. The agreement, he said, was that government would continue with the funding of recurrent and capital expenditures of universities’ staff schools.
“An institution (the National Universities Commission), that is supposed to advise the government rightly is not doing so. We are calling on the government to do the needful and what is right. This is the last warning and you will not hear from us again until we take action because strike is imminent,” he threatened.
According to him, the schools were established by statues and therefore made provision for employment of relevant workers by the universities’ council.
Ugwoke had said government should not resort to distribution of directives through circulars and throw thousands of employees into the labour market.
He argued that the law should be changed before such a directive could be implemented.