The Vice Chancellor, Professor Isaac Asuzu, has held an interactive session with leaders of major unions in the university. The main subject of the meeting, according to the VC, was tax and how to enlist the union leaders in resolving the tax liability on the university at present. To

lay a foundation for the discussions, he took time to explain some basic facts about tax and presumptions that surrounded charging of tax payable by staff on the gross emolument and not on the so-called basic salary, as many would prefer. It was revealed that basic salary used to be

separated from allowances paid staff before now. Then tax deduction used to be based on basic salary which was very distinct from allowances. Along the line and deriving from government responses to various agitations by various unions, government harmonized/collapsed all payments into what is today known and referred to as consolidated salary structure.

Added to the foregoing, the tax law expressly provided that tax deductions must be based on the consolidated salary which is the gross emolument. He went further to inform his audience about the university tax liability which the Ekiti state government initially put at N265m and later

scaled down to N160m by the Executive Governor of the State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose. The union leaders were also informed of the efforts management had made to reduce this tax liability, (which is purely a staff responsibility to offset), by making initial payment of N60m.

It was also disclosed that management contracted the services of a tax consultant to actually determine the institution's actual outstanding tax liability to the state government. The consultants have further been directed to liaise with government tax consultants in other to reconcile the outstanding default figure. The meeting with union leaders would reconvene at the instance of the vice chancellor on getting feedback from the tax consultants.

The VC therefore said the union leaders, whom he had earlier described as leaders of the workforce, were invited to know the facts, adding, “It is unions that can negotiate with government and bring the tax rate to the barest minimum on how it will favour staff. There is need for you to find out how other universities are doing it”.

The Registrar, D. A. Adeyemo, observed that any university where there appears to be no tax problems, it can only be because the unions in such a university have negotiated with their host government. He was not oblivious, however, of the implications of negotiated or waived tax liabilities. The new Bursar, Bashir Oyeniyi Badmus, canvassed a formal correspondence that would capture the key ingredients of such possible waivers, for record purposes. Charges, existing and current, should also be included as items in the negotiations with government.

The unions were therefore advised to sensitize their members of these developments and possible implications if the efforts being proposed at negotiating with government fell through bearing in mind that at present staff are only being charged 50% of their expected tax deductions. The unions applauded management initiative especially with regard to the initial lump payment of N60m on staff behalf and appreciated the invitation to sit and reason together for the good of the institution. They were unanimous in admitting the inevitability of tax issue, promising to reach out to their respective executive or even congress to come up with a common front on the most acceptable approach to resolving the matter.

Present at the meeting held at the vice chancellor's conference room on Wednesday June 10, 2015 were Chairman and Financial Secretary of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Dr. Dosu Malomo and Dr. Abiodun Lawal; Chairman and Secretary of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Olayiwola Ayodele and Ademola Adekunle; Chairman and Secretary Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, Adebayo Dada and Ganiyu Afolabi, respectively.