The Senator representing Borno South senatorial district, Mohammed Ali Ndume, has called for a 50 per cent slash in the salaries of the National Assembly members in order to recoup money and allocate same to meet the pressing demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Ndume made the call on Friday in Maiduguri, Borno State capital while reacting to the October half salary payment to the University teachers by the federal government.
Ndume, a former Senate Leader, advised the federal government to constitute a high-powered standing committee of respected educationists and patriotic Nigerians to meet with the ASUU leadership to address the lingering burning issues.
The lawmaker said, “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.
“Civil servants 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 action in which, constitutionally, they are fighting for their rights and privileges?
“As a matter of priority and as a public servant in the legislative chamber, 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 N20.5 trillion for 2023, I don’t see any reason why the government will not budget N1trillion to address the lingering challenges of the education sector including ASUU strikes.
“For eight months, students were at home doing nothing and they are the public and we are the public servants. In the budget for 2023, the overhead 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 ones negotiating.
“With this, to me, we will not get anywhere. 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,” Ndume stated.