By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
There was tension on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife when members of the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) of the institution trooped out in their thousands to protest against the management’s refusal to pay their 45 month allowance arrears.
The protesting workers while demonstrating peacefully on the campus wielded leaves and placards with various inscriptions kicking against the management’s introduction of a new method called “GIFMIS” that would be used in paying their salaries and other entitlements.
The protesting workers who later converged at the Senate Building that housed the office of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Bamitale Omole forced security guards of the administrative building to hurriedly locked the gates to the entrance of the management’s offices.
To this end, the irate protesters hurled abuses and cast aspersions on the personality of the Vice Chancellor and other principal officers of the institution while newly admitted students as well as the returning ones joined the workers in booing the authorities of the institution.
As this ensued, the Vice Chancellor apparently not comfortable with the blackout in his office after the workers had switched off the generator to further express their grievances, drew the curtain and louvers of his office for ventilation as he peeped at the protesting workers from the story building.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards wielded by the protesting workers read: “Enough of Workers’ Maltreatment by OAU Management”, “OAU NASU Says No To GIFMIS”, “OAU Management, Pay Our Earned Allowances With Immediate Effect”, “We Are Parents Therefore We Demand For Reduction of the Increased OAU Students’ Fees”.
Addressing the protesting workers, the OAU NASU branch Chairman, Mr. Wole Odewumi said, “the reason for this protest is that the Prof. Omole led management introduced a strange method of payment of salaries through what he called “GIFMIS” and we the members of NASU are rejecting because this is another way of looting our salaries.”
According to a communique issued and signed by the OAU NASU Secretary, Mr. Gabriel Sani at the end of the union congress held on 4th June, 2014, “the old method of paying members salaries should be used until the discussion between the Unions and Federal Government is concluded.”
The communique, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent further reads: “many of our members have not not received their salaries up till now because of GIFMIS which the Union knows nothing about. Also, the arrears of the balance of Earned Allowances of about 45 months be paid to members immediately like other Federal and State Universities have done.”
When asked the meaning of GIFMIS, the union Secretary said, “I don’t know the meaning of this GIFMIS of a thing and it is embarrassing that the Vice Chancellor who informed us of this new method during our last meeting with him said he too didn’t know the meaning. So, this shows that the management, trying to introduce what it cannot define is up to something mischievious.”
The protest however affected the ongoing orientation ceremony for newly admitted students of the institution as the workers deserted their various offices and also shunned the venue of the orientation.
The workers then appealed to the management to yield to their demands if there would be peace on the campus. “It shall be appreciated if the demands of our members are met for continued industrial peace in Obafemi Awolowo University”, the communique added.