Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu on Tuesday announced the approval for the release of the sum of four hundred million naira bailout fund to the management of the Abia State University, Uturu.
This is coming 24hrs after academic and non-academic lecturers of the state owned institution staged a protest against what they described as the failure of the school management to pay their six months’ salaries and other entitlements arrears.
Ikpeazu who stated that the fund to the institution was a sort of financial assistance in the wake of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic added that the bailout fund is expected to be applied by the University Management to meet basic financial obligations including but not limited to the payments of salaries of workers in the University.
Ikpeazu in granting the financial approval said that his administration is mindful of the fact that the Abia State University has remained a strong model in resources management and maintenance of academic stability.
The Governor noted that the University has since the inception of his administration, remained a signpost for excellence and service which has manifested in the consistent improvements in the rating of the University by independent assessment agencies in the country.
The Governor further stated that the pandemic which took the entire globe by surprise has fundamentally altered the smooth academic environment in the University leading to obvious disequilibrium in their financial inflows.
Governor Ikpeazu is of the firm belief that under the circumstances, the University is well deserving of this assistance from the State Government.
Details of the structure of the bailout will be worked out between the officials of the State Government and the University Management Team.
The Governor believes that this line of support, which is unprecedented in the history of the Institution, will provide the needed impetus for the University to jump-start academic activities and continue to sustain her position in the nation’s academic environment.
The protesters during their protest had vowed to continue protests until the state government, which owns the institution, settles them.
The Chairman of ASUU, ABSU branch, Dr. Victor Nkemdirim, who led other colleagues stated that they have been going through hardship because of the unpaid entitlements.
According to him,“we have run out of patience, waiting for the administration to do something about it; the future of our children should not be gambled with. We barely feed since the emergence of the COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
Nkedirim demanded payment of their salary arrears from July 2009 – December 2010) totaling N902, 161,550.82.
The ASUU chief also asked the school to pay their cooperative welfare money totaling N201,000,000), as well as their Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
ASUU decried non-payment of gratuities, implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage effective from April 2019 and interests on seven and a half per cent contributory pension scheme
The protesters also demanded six months of unremitted union dues check offs.
“Despite the enormity of the sacrifices made by academic staff, it is unfortunate that none of them received salaries during this period, whereas virtually all state universities have paid their lecturers from April to July. Ours that never deemed it necessary to distribute palliatives to workers also starved more than 60 per cent of the workforce of their April salary,” he said.
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Nkedirim said he could not guarantee the state government and students that lecturers would return to classrooms when the government decides to reopen universities.