Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Mass retrenchment of workers may occur at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka following an alleged paucity of funds to pay salaries of workers in the institution.
A source from the university told our correspondent that currently, the university management was having difficulties in paying the salaries of workers due to the fact that the former vice chancellor allegedly over-bloated the workforce by employing too many persons in the twilight of his administration.
The mass recruitment, the source said, has constituted a dire situation for the incumbent vice chancellor such that he is considering to prune the personnel of the university to be able to meet financial obligations as it concerns payment of staff salaries.
At the personnel department of the university, a member of staff who did not disclose her identity, revealed that information on the welfare of staff was centralised and that only the university registrar could provide information on a sensitive issue like the alleged impending mass displacement of workers.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Public Relations Department of the university, who gave her name as Ene Chika Gladys, said she had no jurisdiction over such information.
The PRO therefore referred our correspondent to the university registrar Barr. Philomena Iwara Okoye. The registrar debunked the information saying that the university management had no intention to sack any of its staff.
But the chairperson of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities Nnamdi Azikiwe University branch, Comrade Njideka Nwangwu, said the employees of the university are paid by the federal government and not Nnamdi Azikiwe University management.
Nwangwu who spoke with our correspondent in her office at the Post Graduate School section of the university noted that if the federal government employed any staff, the university authorities have no powers to relieve such staff of his or her appointment.
She further explained that the contrary could only take place when sacked workers did not have their names in the federal government staff list, adding that if such ever happened, it meant that those affected were not staff yet as the federal government does not hire and fire at will.
According to her, “Nnamdi Azikiwe University is a federal government university and not Prof. Charles Esimone’s enterprise.”
On general staff welfare, the SSANU NAU chairperson also disclosed that although the current vice chancellor just assumed duty as the 6th substantive vice chancellor of the university, he had assured the entire workforce that his utmost priority was staff welfare.
She said that the VC promised her association that he would pay non-teaching staff of the university hazard allowance, which she said previous administrations didn’t deem necessary to pay.
Nwangwu equally stated that the rays from computers and other machines staff work with affected their eyes and such were reasonable grounds for them to be paid hazard allowance.
She said some who work in the file rooms grappled with dust and those who operated photocopying machines contended with rays from the machines that affected their hearts even though she said that the present paucity of funds in the university has precluded the vice chancellor from matching his words with action.
Nwangwu explained that the body language of the vice chancellor portrayed the fact that the welfare of workers of Nnamdi Azikiwe University was uppermost in his agenda as evident in the on-going conversion of workers to their choice departments, recent review of conditions of service as well as workers’ promotions.