Senior Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to disregard the remarks made by Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, and pay the salaries owed to university lecturers who recently called off their strike action.
Newsbreak Nigeria previously reported that professors in public Nigerian universities were enraged when they were paid in part after returning to work eight months after going on strike.
On October 14, the union ended its eight-month strike.
According to Olajide Oshundun, chief of press and public affairs for the federal ministry of labor and employment, ASUU members received their October salaries pro rata rather than at half their normal rate as had been reported.
Oshundun said that pro-rata was used since the union could not be paid for work that was not done.
Falana who is the legal representative of the union argued that the federal government’s stance on the issue is “factually flawed and legally deceptive.”
The no-work, no-pay premise that had been applied to the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) members, he claimed, should be overturned for ASUU as well because Buhari had already done so.
Falana requested that the president defy the labor minister Chris Ngige’s recommendation and pay ASUU members their entire salary from February to October.
‘The position of the federal government is factually faulty and legally misleading,” he said.
“Since the industrial action was called off, the public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021/2022 academic session is not canceled. Consequently, students are currently taking lectures or writing examinations that were disrupted during the strike of the ASUU.
“Therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike the doctrine of ‘no work, no pay’ is totally inapplicable as students who were not taught during the strike are currently attending lectures and writing examinations.
“Furthermore, it is public knowledge that the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a strike that lasted two months last year. The federal government dragged the striking doctors to the national industrial court which ordered the NARD to call off the strike. As soon as the strike was called off, President Muhammadu Buhari jettisoned the ‘no work, no pay’ principle and ordered the payment of the salaries for the two months that the strike lasted.
“On that occasion, the President overruled Dr. Ngige in the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector.
“In the same vein, the ASUU recently called off its 8-month old strike in compliance with the order of the national industrial court and the court of appeal. We are therefore compelled to call on President Buhari should ignore the advice of Dr. Ngige and direct the public universities to pay the full salary of each lecturer from February to October 2022.”