The management of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State has said its lecturers were quick to embark on strike over the non-payment of their February salary due to ongoing biometrics exercise in the university.
Dr. Williams Wodi, the university’s spokesman, confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt on Thursday that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities of the university were on strike.
Wodi, the Deputy Registrar, Information, of the university, said that Federal Government had informed the university of its intention to commence payment of university workers through its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
He said: “The issue is that the Federal Government directed us (UNIPORT) as it directed all other 39 federal universities that it wants to commence payment of salaries centrally from Abuja.
“The Federal Government asked us to compile a list of our staff members and everybody participated in the exercise.
“And at the end of the process, FG is saying that UNIPORT alone has quite a sizeable number of up to 5,000 staff members.
“So, it appears that the sheer logistics (of our staff strength) is overwhelming and the Federal Government appeared to be sorting that out (before the strike).
“The issue here is that ASUU is saying that if its members don’t get paid, that they are not going to teach (students) in UNIPORT.
“All the other 39 federal universities, they (lecturers) are teaching there and they are also confronted by the same case scenario of non-payment of February salary.”
Wodi claimed the strike could be connected with fears expressed by some lecturers that a centralised payment of salaries could enable government to checkmate the union’s activities.
Meanwhile, Prof. Anthonia Okerewon, the branch Chairperson of ASUU in UNIPORT, faulted the university’s claim that lecturers in other federal universities had yet to receive their February salaries.
Okerewon said that lecturers in other federal universities had received their full wages for the month of February.
According to her: “UNIPORT management has not given us enough reason for continued delay of our salary and, as such, we are not happy with the current development.”