The leadership of College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), on Wednesday, gave the Federal Government three weeks’ ultimatum to address the demands of the union, failure, which the lecturers vowed to proceed on a nationwide strike.
COEASU President, Comrade Nuhu Ogirima, who addressed newsmen in Abuja, lamented the neglect of colleges of education by both Federal and State Governments, noting the Federal has failed to release the N15 billion revitalisation fund promised out of the N486 billion required as at 2017, to address the rot in colleges of education in the country.
He said the lecturers were also angry that since the imposition of Integrated Personnel Pay-roll Information System (IPPIS) on the College of Education system, payment of emoluments of staff has been bedevilled with anomalies, infractions and deprivations.
According to him, the Expanded National Executive Council (ENEC) after its meeting took the decision “to shut the Teacher Education industry since the quality of infrastructure, welfare and service delivery takes no preference in the scheme of governance at all levels.”
“ENEC wishes that you take notice hereby that should the government refuse to redress all the issues in contention within 21 days, the Union would have no other option than to declare a nation-wide industrial action,” he said.
Ogirima added that because of migration to IPPIS platform, third party-deductions were not being effected in most colleges and that a number of lecturers on Sabbatical and Study Leaves have not been included on pay-roll.
He lamented that the check-off dues deducted from the salaries of members have been withheld by the government and unremitted to the Union since February 2020, “ostensibly to stifle the Union of funds and cripple her activities.”
He recalled that in August 2019, the Union transmitted a memo passionately requesting President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in addressing the plight of the public COE system.
He said the call was predicated on decades of utter neglect of the COE system, which the Federal Ministry of Education could not successfully address.
“Sadly, we all are still awaiting the response, almost one year after the memo was received at the Presidency, while the system further degenerates,” he said while accusing the Federal Government of the double standard against the COE, relative to other tertiary institutions.
He said: “Between 2013 and now, the Union did not merely write but also engaged, severally, Federal Ministry of Education and other related government Ministries, Departments and Agencies on all the lingering and emergent challenges of the COEs.
“While Federal Ministry of Education constituted a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to handle the issues in 2017, it is quite disheartening to note that nothing substantial was achieved by the RRT, as the challenges linger on and consequently culminated into the brief national strike observed in October and November 2018.
“Incidentally, the trust was misplaced as none of the pledges; even the paltry fraction of N15 billion only as a palliative, out of N486 billion required as at 2017, to cushion the effects of the non-implementation of Needs Assessment, and others has not been fulfilled till date.
“Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) affected deduction of COEASU check-off dues at source from the promotion arrears paid to some of our members from January to November 2018 but has continually withheld same in spite of the request for remittance to the Union.
“The situation is same, or probably worse, in most of the states of the federation. Most state governments do toe the line of the Federal Government in the handling of the affairs of their COEs,” he said.