Crisis appears to be looming at Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, as lecturers under the Academic Staff Union of Universities are threatening a showdown with the state government over the non-payment of their four months salary arrears.
Specifically, the lecturers are accusing the government of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of underfunding the state-owned tertiary institution, describing the development as a threat to industrial harmony in the campus.
Rising from its congress held at the weekend, the lecturers said all academic staff in AAUA have been on "amputated net salaries" for the past three years.
Dr Simon Ehiabhi, Chairman of ASUU, AAUA branch, who spoke after the congress, explained that the lecturers of the school were being owed salaries for July, August, September and October.
He added that the monthly subvention to the university in the 2015/2016 academic session was N212.5m but drastically reduced in 2017 by the state government to a sum of N148m at a time when the number of academic staff increased from 382 to 456.
According to him, the drop in the monthly subvention and budgetary allocation to the university is negatively affecting the capacity and responsibilities of the staff to discharge their responsibilities including the non-payment of their salaries.
He said, "The union, therefore, finds it difficult to understand the rationale behind the reduction of the budgetary allocation to a growing institution as AAUA by the state government.
"It is, therefore, disheartening to note that because of the drastic drop in subvention, which amounts to under-funding, the university is owing ASUU-AAUA over N12m as members check-off dues, while the Academic Staff Cooperative Multipurpose Society is being owned over N100m which are deductions from academic staff salaries.
"As a result of non-release of the union’s check-off dues, it has become extremely difficult for the union to carry out some of its statutory functions to members in particular and the general public, while the ASCMS is also going through difficult challenges in promptly meeting the financial needs of its members as the union has not received their deductions since January 2020 asides the backlog of other deductions."
While noting that the university had been rated as the best state tertiary institution in the country by the 2020 webometrics ranking due to the commitment of staff, Mr Ehiabhi said it was unfortunate that the same members of staff were being subjected to poverty as a result of non-payment of lecturers salaries as and when due.
The ASUU leader explained that the university campus was now full of staff with sad faces, wallowing in pains, sickness, deprivation, frustration and haplessness.
He thereafter advised the state government to as a matter of urgency bail the university out of its present financial predicament as a short term measure for the institution to offset all outstanding salaries including the cooperative deductions to avoid imminent crisis and industrial disharmony.
"As a long-term measure, the budgetary allocation (subvention) to Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko should be appreciably increased to be able to accommodate staff wage bills and other university activities.
"The union is calling on the Governing Council of the university under the leadership of Tunji Abayomi to assist the institution in terms of sourcing for funds and also persuading the visitor and governor of the state to urgently intervene to rescue members of staff and university from extinction."