By Hamza Suleiman
Maiduguri, Nov. 10, 2022(NAN) Sen. Ali Ndume (APC-Borno South) has called for a 50 per cent slash in the salaries of the national assembly by half to allocate it to the Academic Staff Union of Universities,(ASUU) in order to meet their pressing demands.
Ndume made the call while reacting to the alleged half pay for the academic staff in Maiduguri on Thursday.
Ndume, a former Senate Leader, advised the federal government to constitute a high powered standing committee of respected educationist and patriotic Nigerians to meet with the ASUU leadership to address lingering burning issues.
“Even if it means that the National Assembly will reduce sitting allowances or be paid on casual allowances basis whenever they sit at the Lower and upper chambers, by cutting the recurrent expenditure in the budget of the federal lawmakers to settle the ASUU arrears, let it be. It will be in the overall national interest of Nigerians
“We only assemble twice or so per week and get paid as such.
“Civil servants who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and were paid their full salaries and allowances monthly.
“So why will the federal government cut university lecturers salaries because they went on legitimate strike? Which constitutionally, they are fighting for their rights and privileges.
“As a matter of priority and as a public servant in the legislative chambers, we don’t work; so why don’t you just give us half salary and then pay ASUU.
“It is high time they resolve the issue once and for all even if they have to borrow or make supplementary budgets.
“We are budgeting 20.5 trillion for 2023, I don’t see any reason why the government will not budget one trillion to address the lingering challenges of the education sector including ASUU strikes.
“Eight months, student were at home doing nothing and they are the public and we are the public servants. In the budget of 2023, the over head is 43 per cent.
“If you can spend N8.3trillion on public servants why don’t you spend N1trillion in public universities.
“Some of those involved in the negotiations do not have children in public universities.
“How can you be talking about something that you have no stake in? I don’t have a child in public schools, all my children are schooling outside the country; most politicians are like that too and they are the once negotiating.
“With this to me, we will not get any where. Even if we got somewhere it will be temporary because other people will be playing to the gallery.
“Some of them will be claiming to be defending the interest of the federal government and the others will be pretending to be defending the interest of the masses and at the end they are only playing to the gallery,”he said.