25 lecturers have died over nonpayment of salaries for 26 months – ASUU-AAU Ekpoma

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From Owen Eresoyen, Benin

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma chapter on Thursday attributed the deaths of scores of its members to Governor Godwin Obaseki’s non-payment of salaries for 26 months to many academic staff since January 2022.

The Union described the sordid reality of pains, hardship and poverty facing the staff of the University as having led to the death of many workers of the University, including Professors for lack of money to cater for themselves as a result of non-payment of salaries.

Briefing newsmen in Benin on the systemic decimation of AAU, Ekpoma, Chairperson ASUU, AAU Ekpoma; Cyril Oziegbe Onogbosele said many academic staff of the state owned university have been denied payment of salaries for 26 months.

According to Onogbosele, AAU, Ekpoma is presently bleeding and at its lowest and darkest period in its historical trajectory as a result of a continuing systemic decimation of the University by the actions and inactions of Edo State Government in concert with it’s SIT in the University.

Onogbosele added that to sustain the vices against the University and its workers, the Edo State Government in concert with its Special Intervention Team (SIT) in the University has unleashed different forms of blackmail, propaganda and misinformation on the University.

He said contrary to the so-called ‘repositioning agenda’ in the University which the Obaseki-led administration kick-started since 2021, the University is in comatose with the consequences of workers facing hardship and leaving in droves while the number of prospective students to the University/enrolment through JAMB had dropped from more than 14,000 in the previous years to barely 3000 in 2024.

Onogbosele added that the SIT resorted to the use of hunger as a weapon against union leaders and many other staff of the University through deliberate denial of salaries and promotion, pay-cut, witch-hunt, and intimidation.

According to him “within the period of focus; from that date to present; we have lost not less than 25 members from our records, this is since 2021. You see, we are in distress, we are in crisis.”

“It is even more critical when you are ill and you don’t even have the means, the financial well-withal to take care of your health. In that case, it has been revealed that there is a connection between non-payment of salaries and death”, he added.

He said that the inhumane situation in the University can no longer be tolerated adding that, “it is time for a serious resistance against the ending problem of payment of salaries of staff in the university which has been characterized by delay in payment of salaries, arbitrary stoppage of the salaries of some staff, selective payment of salaries, non-payment of outstanding/withheld salaries among others.”

“For no just cause, many academic staff has been denied payment of salaries for 26 months since January 2022. The affected staff in the University has been working in pains without pay. They were not tried for, or found wanting in violation of the University’s Law or Rules and Regulations to warrant denial of their salaries.

“Slave trade was abolished hundreds of years ago, but the SIT and University Administration have re-packaged slavery and foisted it on workers of AAU, Ekpoma. It is slavery to make a human being work without pay. Even in modern wars, it is criminal to use hunger as a weapon. The SIT/Government’s repeated announcement that it does not owe staff of the University any salary is not true. It is a ploy to distract the public from the sordid reality of pains, hardship and poverty facing the staff of the University”, he added.