Inyali Peter|21 May 2017
The cyberspace have filled with a lot of discussions on what is and not happening in the University of Calabar, Calabar (UNICAL). On social media, there have been accusations and counter accusations on some development which some commentators and well wishers feel concerned about.
Amongst such issues which have form social media discourse over the past few weeks is the issue of shortfall in the salaries of staff of the university. There have been discombobulations over the steady accusation that the management of the institution is deliberately shortchanging the workers.
Ordinarily, the matter would have been ignored but considering that it's a salient and sensitive matter that concerns workers welfare, it became necessary that the records should be set straight and the truth be stated to sensitize the public against the outright lies told by the agents of mass destabilization carrying campaign of calumny against the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Zana Akpagu and his management team.
It's an open secret that UNICAL for the past one year have been paying workers 90% of their salaries. However, what is a deliberate lie in the black propaganda trending on social media by some esoteric and wicked hired agents with delish intention is that the situation is a policy trust of the Zana led management or peculiar to the institution.
The shortfall in salaries of federal government owned tertiary institutions in Nigeria is a national issue and not a UNICAL affair as maliciously and erroneously insinuated by some people. Most universities in Nigeria because of the country's crumbling economy which has affected the allocation or subvention from the federation's account as well as internally generated revenues have been suffering the same fate as UNICAL.
It will be recalled that on February 2016, the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration cut down the salaries of federal government tertiary institutions by 50%. The government cited the dwindling economy at the time as the reason.
It is no longer news that the global fall in oil prices and the 2016 incessant bombings of oil installations by the Niger Delta Advengers Militants group plunged Nigeria into recession that the country is still struggling to recover from. This was the reason given at the time on why government can no longer pay university workers full salaries.
After different unions led by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) met with government and negotiated, government increased the salary from 50% to to 90% in March with the promise that when the country recovers from the recession, arrears would be paid.
It is pertinent to note that because of the low allocation from the government to the tertiary institutions, not all were able to pay up to 90%. UNICAL is among the few universities in the country that have struggled to pay up to even the 90%.
Only four first generation universities as at February (before government released intervention funds) were able to pay full salaries. University of Jos which was established same year with UNICAL only paid full salary in April after over one year of incomplete salaries.
To justify that it's a national problem, the number one ASUU demand in the ongoing minimum wage negotiation is the shortfall in universities staff salaries.
Federal government owned Universities in sister states like University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom and University of Port Hacourt in Rivers have all been suffering the shortfall in salaries.
However, for the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that this piece is not aimed at justifying that the shortfall is right but correcting the notion that it is only happening in UNICAL. This is not to say that since it is happening in other universities, if UNICAL management have the resources to pay full salaries, workers should be subjected to the pains of working fully while earning incomplete salaries either.
But the reality remains that with the commitment of the current Vice Chancellor to students and staff welfare, it is mischievous, pathetic, unfortunate and wicked for anybody to imagine that the resources are there but the management choose to pay only 90%.
Besides, the university is full with intellectuals and so if the matter was UNICAL affair, different unions by now would have been carrying placards. For ASUU and other unions in the institution to accept the painful reality that the university cannot afford full payment now tell the whole truth about the strory.
Nobody knows how to fight ASUU's fight more than them. Nobody knows how the university works more than ASUU and other unions therefore those who have taken it upon themselves to malign the person of the Vice Chancellor and other principal officers of the university should desist from such habit.
There's no gain saying that some people who have been asking questions to know the reason for the shoryfall may feel genuinely concerned about the situation; Some who have been commenting negatively may be acting in ignorance while others may be playing the script of some devilish and corrupt elements in the system who have vowed to distract the leadership of the institution from sustaining the developmental strides going on.
Whatever may be the reason, the general public are advised to disregard any campaign and lies going on that the issue of salary shortfall is peculiar to UNICAL.
For those with genuine interest in UNICAL who may want more information about the policies of the current administration, they are advised to contact appropriate authorities or conduct a robust and thorough investigation about the activities in the institution.
Rather than resort to making judgemental statements arrived at from beer parlour discussions and cheap gossips aimed at blackmailing the university and her leadership, UNICAL community and the general public are advised to always verify their information and sources. A lot of people out there are not happy with the evidential development and achievements of the current administration. Some of them think UNICAL will never work and to defend their ego, they have resorted to blackmailing the administration. People must be vigilante and careful not to fall to the antics of these naysayers.
Prof. Zana is running an open door policy of inclusiveness. He is open to suggestions and ideas that can move UNICAL forward. If he succeed, UNICAL will succeed and if he fails, UNICAL will fail.
Would you rather blackmail, distract and drag his name to mud for doing what he knows how to best (development) or support and work with him to sustain the momentum? The choice is yours to make.
Is a Journalist