Academic activities were yesterday paralyzed at the Kogi State University (KSU), as the  Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the institution has begun an indefinite strike, following an alleged delay in paying its members’ allowance as contained in the 2009 agreement between its national body and the Federal Government.. gathered that following the strike embarked upon by the union the Igala community, becomes a ghost town; commercial activities are paralysed because the university makes the town tick.

ASUU chairman Dr Abdullahi Musa Yusuf, confirmed that lecturers were on strike over the allowance, noting that the amount owed them is over N1 billion.

The Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Hassan Isah, refuted the claim, saying the inability to implement the agreement was not the management’s or the government’s fault, but ASUU’s.

He said the computed earned academic allowances submitted to the management and forwarded to the government, was done last November. The management, Prof Isah said, forwarded the document to the government in January after it confirmed its accuracy.

The VC said the institution was one of the first to implement the 2009 agreement after it was signed, appealing to the lecturers to go back to the negotiating table with the government rather than embarking on a strike.

But, Dr Yusuf said the strike became imperative after the government allegedly reneged on its promise to pay the allowance.

He said: “We have made efforts to dialogue with government on this matter but we are getting cold shoulders from them. Those who held talks with us on behalf of government did not seem to take us serious. As I always say, strike is always our last resort. In as much as we are humans, we are also parents who would not be happy to see our children sit at home. But our hands are tied.”

Prof Isah said the government is committed to resolving the issue in the shortest time. “I appeal to the ASUU members to evaluate the cost of the strike. Management has not been resting on its oars in ensuring that the issue is addressed harmoniously. They should consider that Governor Idris Wada is an education-friendly governor. He just got the computed document and he would implement the agreement,” the VC said.

ASUU also claimed that its members were overtaxed between November 2011 and September 2012, to the tune of N104,934,709.99. In a letter with reference number KGS/BIR/PIT/VOL.I/317, ASUU wrote the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue, seeking a refund.

But in a reply, the Internal Revenue Board said: “After careful study of your request, we discovered that, contrary to your claims, staff of Kogi State University were never over-taxed, particularly during the period of November 2011 to September, 2012 as claimed in your letter.

“Kogi State, during the period, including your counterparts in the state civil service were made to pay 2.5 per cent of their gross salary as tax, whereas, you (the lecturers) were paying tax based on the concession earlier granted (waiver of Peculiar Allowances). This did not translate to being over-taxed.”

The strike is biting residents of Anyigba hard. They are appealing to the lecturers to return to work.

A resident said: “Without the university, our commercial activities crumble. In fact, commercial activities suffer whenever the school is on strike or students go on vacation. Since this action is internal, we appeal to the lecturers to use other means to push their demands.”
Mohammed Isah, the vice chairman of the university’s Okada Riders Association, said their business has been affected. He said: “Anyigba is a university town and our businesses here largely depend on students’ patronage. Without them, commercial activities are paralysed. We urge the interested parties to reach an agreement and call off the strike.”

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