The Nigerian government has reportedly rejected the Nimi-Briggs Committee over the alleged allocation of pay rise of 180 percent to university teaching staff, while the non teaching staff were given 10 percent.
It could be recalled that the federal government had set up the Briggs-led committee to renegotiate the 2009 Agreement between the government and the university based unions, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
However sources at the Ministry of Finance accused the Briggs Committee of connivance with ASUU in proposing an impracticable increase in the university wage structure where a Professor is to earn N2 million a month.
The sources close to the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages alleged that though Prof. Briggs is the Pro-chancellor of the Federal University, Lokoja, he still teaches at the University of Port Harcourt hence the alleged conspiracy to make a pay rise of about 180 percent for teaching staff, while the non teaching staff was given a paltry pay rise.
Besides, the source claimed that ASUU in collaboration with the Committee excluded the relevant advisory Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs that were key to the negotiation.
The relevant MDA’s that were excluded according to multiple sources are the Ministries of Finance, Education, Labour and Employment, Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission from the sittings of the committee.
According to the sources, “These are critical MDAs that manage the finances of the Federal Government, its receipts and expenditures as well as administer the public service of the federation.
Their exclusion from the sittings of Prof. Nimi Briggs easily explains its non-inclusive and one-sided proposal, recommending sky-high, impracticable figures in salaries and allowances that are clearly beyond the capacity of the Federal Government.
“How can you discuss the service condition of a section of the public service of the federation without the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation or salaries and wage structure without contributions from the Minister of finance, Budget Office or National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission?
“To the exclusion of the Presidential Committee on Salaries? This is an anomaly. And how could the Briggs Committee skate over such a grave issue,” Vanguard quoted a source as saying.
According to findings, Briggs Committee proposed a professor to earn N19.5 million per annum and when other allowances are added, will scale up to N23 million per annum, making it about N2 million monthly.
The allowances include post-graduate supervision allowance, Teaching Allowance, Field trip allowance, responsibility and Post graduate supervision allowance, Hazard allowance, examination/time keeper allowance, teaching practice/industrial supervision allowance. Others include honoraria for post graduate thesis(oral exam) honoraria for external modulation programme for undergraduate/ post graduate students, allowance for external assessment of readers/professors as well as allowance for the post graduate study grant, besides other fringe benefits.
One of the sources said that the government side – the Presidential Committee on Salaries has taken a decision for a holistic, all-encompassing and integrated review of the salaries and allowances of the entire educational sector – universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Hence, the Committee has been mandated to go back to the drawing board to produce a reasonable, practicable wage increase, which will reflect relativity of every worker in the educational sector – academic and non- academic.
This the source explained was to avoid a situation where government will solve a problem from one section of the education system and inadvertently opens conflagration from a different flank.
It said that this is because the request for the increase of salaries of polytechnics staff as well as that of health workers- doctors and JOHESU members is still waiting for the response of the Federal Government.
Another source said the Government is amenable to a general wage review and intends to achieve it in a manner the promotes the best interest and overall progress of all sectors of the nation’s workforce.
It however regretted that while doctors and Joint Health workers as well as staff of polytechnics, whose requests for wage increase is pending before government have shown patriotism, choosing to stay at work while pressing home their demand, ASUU wants N1.1 trillion yearly for the university system alone or keep the universities shut.
According to the source, the Minister of Finance has explained that paying this amount is not doable, even if the Federal Government decides to collapse a big chunk of its capital vote.
Urging ASUU to return to work while the Federal Government sorts this tricky wage increase in manner that does not unsettle relativity and general wage equilibrium in the federal public service, having in mind also, the finances of the nation, it lamented that incessant strike by ASUU is at the root of the decay and consequent de-marketing of the nation’s universities.
The source said, “ASUU made the Committee work without government officials from the Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“These government organs are to provide advice to the committee while the Ministry of Education and the National University Commission are the direct employers.
“The Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office of the Federation are supposed to advise the committee on financial and fiscal solutions for revenue of the agreement in order to know the quantum of pay rise.
“While the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission will work out the template for salaries and allowance increase in order that relability will be maintained between lecturers and other staff members, this was not done because they drove those officials away including the Ministry of Labour that will advise and the Office of the Head of Service.”
The source further said, “Briggs who is a serving Professor even though he is a Pro-Chancellor of a University with ASUU fixed humongous salary of about 180 percent rise to ASUU members and gave 10 percent to SSANU, NASU and NAAT.
One of the sources accused ASUU of using threat to achive whatever benefits it wants.
“ASUU is threatening the Minister of Communications and Digital Evonomy with revocation of his professorship, the Director General of NITDA is being threatened for revocation of his Bachelor’s degree.
“Going by what ASUU and the Briggs Committee did, it will fix the salary of a Professor to N20 million annually and if you add the allowances, it will land them N2 million per month, some senior lecturers will collect N1.5 million per month, while other senior non teaching staff will get about N500 thousand. The Vice Chancellors who are professors will get N1.1 million which is far below a Professor that is teaching.These are the complications.”
The Nimi-Briggs Report was submitted one month ago and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education was said to have passed it on.