(Excerpts from a conversation between a senior lecturer and our correspondent on Friday)
On Friday evening around 5:30pm, I was dressed in my white-and-black striped T.M shirt properly tucked into my black trousers with a pair of black shoes to match. I went to meet with one of the ASUU National Executive Council member where I had appointment with him in Yaba, Lagos. Unfortunately, he did not keep to the appointment, but the story changed when I met another ASUU member, Dr. Akin Tunde (not real name). I felt sorry for ASUU after the meeting.
Dr. Tunde was in a white on black attire with a pair of black shoes, actually different from the design I wore. If he was putting on a black shirt on his black trousers, I would say he was mourning, because his foreskin was so squeezed like someone looking directly at the son, but his face was not that bad.
Government is not paying us salary, now they want to sack us
When I greeted him with a smile, “Good day sir”.
He looked at me and it was like, ‘What’s so funny?’
“Don’t tell me Good day, there nothing Good about the day, Government is not paying us salary since four months”. Said Dr. Tunde.
“But there is still life sir”.
He turned from where he was unlocking his office door and looked at me, he was like, ‘What’s this one saying?”
“What is life without money?” He asked me.
“But that is one of the things that everybody is fighting for, I mean, your salary”
“Who are you?” He asked me.
By the time I was down introducing myself, he was done getting something from his office and locked it up, we were now walking downstairs.
Dr. Tunde continued, “ASUU is fighting and they are causing another problem, Government has stopped paying us salary, and now they want to sack us”.
If they sack us, there are no jobs out there
“With this latest position of the Federal Government, I mean considering that they have ordered University Authorities to reopen school and treat every lecturer who doesn’t report to work as resigned, that’s a very serious one, what exactly is your reaction to it? Are you not concerned that you might get sacked?”
“I am o! I am concerned, I am afraid if they sack us, there are no jobs out there, that means everybody will start suffering.” He said in a higher tone almost immediately.
Rather calm now, “though with my relations with the media, I can get a place there. But I think ASUU should do something about it before it gets out of hand.” Dr. Tunde said.
Asuu should find a safe landing with the governement strike is not the solution
“But you are aware that ASUU is fighting for an improvement in Education in Nigeria, why then are you sounding as though you are not part of the struggle?”
“I am part of the struggle but things are getting out of hand.”
Federal government must pay us
“Well that’s your opinion sir, because I know that is not what your ASUU is saying officially. But, are you also saying that ASUU should leave their salary and call off…”
Snaps in, “No!” he raised his eyes and looked at me, as if he just said, “don’t say that again”.
“Federal Government must pay us, They must pay us our salary” He said.
“Are you confident about that?”
Dr. Tunde nodded hid head, “Yes, they will pay us our four months salary without removing one kobo.
His phone rang a second time, and he answered it, I understand Yoruba very well so I heard what he was saying.
“Hello” on the phone.
“Please be patient with me, you will hear from me soon.” He said apologetically on the phone.
“You know we have not been paid salary for four months now”
“Thank you, thank you, bye bye
Our wives are now breadwinners, some lecturers took loan
“All this while that you have not received salary, how has lecturers been coping?”
“It hasn’t been easy. Some lecturers whose wives are working have their wives taking care of the family, some went to get loan facility in the hope that when they are paid, they will pay back. Some others who have other things doing are not complaining, some lecturing in private universities and some other universities abroad. The ones I have great pity on are the junior lecturers. Those ones are really feeling the heat.” He said