Lecturers in colleges of education across the country under the aegis of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have accused the Federal Government of insensitivity, saying successive governments over the years had neglected issues affecting the union and schools despite many entreaties.
National Vice President and Southwest Zonal Coordinator (COEASU), Olusegun Lana, said the Federal Government has not been fair to colleges of education.
The union listed some of its grievances to include failure of the Federal Government to reconstitute its renegotiation team for COEASU-FGN 2010 Agreement; non-release of N15billion revitalisation fund pledged by government and insistence on Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) against University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which the union described as a more reliable alternative payment system.
The union urged stakeholders to prevail on the government to do the needful to save colleges of education from incessant strikes.
He said: “While the long-anticipated renegotiation of COEASU-FGN 2010 agreement holds enormous promise for mutual resolution of several challenges bedevilling the COE sub-sector, the FG has failed to accord the exercise deserved priority. Ridiculously, government has refused to constitute its own renegotiation team after acknowledging receipt of our union’s team list on her own request for over two months now.
“Government has refused to fulfil its pledge of N15billion revitalisation fund. Apart from being a far cry from N478billion proposed at the 2014 Presidential Needs Assessment across public COEs, the delay in its release has made nonsense of the value due to inflation.
“Poor funding of colleges of education and poor conditions across state-owned COEs, in spite of our agitations and government’s persistent promise of redress, both Federal and State COEs remain poorly funded.
“Reign of impunity, statutory breach and administrative aberration persists our members, especially in state COEs, continue to suffer untold hardships through non-payment of salary and salary arrears, refusal to implement statutory salary structure in full, extraneous promotion criteria, idiosyncratic policies, non/improper domestication of 65-year retirement age for workers in the COE system; multiple promotions without financial effects and repression of union activities, among others.
“Many colleges find it difficult to run smoothly due to non-release of running costs by government. State governments have abdicated their responsibility as proprietors to TETFund, as the only projects you see in the colleges are TETFund projects.”
Lana lamented that IPPIS was causing more havoc to tertiary institutions. He noted that up till the end of March 2022, about 1,219 lecturers in COEs were experiencing problems with the payment platform.
“COEASU has demanded the adoption of UTAS, an alternative innovation of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). UTAS has been found superior to IPPIS as it has the capacity to address our payroll security concerns and peculiarities of tertiary institutions. It is therefore ludicrous that FG has remained adamant on retaining IPPIS despite its injurious effects.
He said after extensive deliberations on the outcome of referendum conducted across chapters of the union, NEC resolved to issue government a 21-day ultimatum to do the needful within the period.
Mobilisation Coordinator of Education Rights Campaign, Michael Lenin, said:
“The blame for these strike actions that have grounded tertiary education must be placed at the doorstep of the government. It is quite unprecedented that all the major unions in the tertiary education sector will be on strike; however, it showed the level of damage the negligence of successive governments have done to the sector through chronic under-funding.
“This is the time for Nigerian students to rise and demand that all the demands of striking workers must be met and the sector must be repositioned from the current horrific state it is in.”
But the Federal Government has said that it is in consultation with COEASU and has held series of meetings with the union with a view to resolving the issues.
Strike: We’re Waiting For Govt’s Reply To Our Presentation — ASUU
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has said it was waiting for the Federal Government to respond to its presentation, so it could determine whether to call off the over four months strike its members embarked on to press home their demands.
According to the union, calling off the strike soon rests squarely on government responding to its presentation made through a committee set up by the government to negotiate with it.
Checks by newsmen, last Friday, showed that the national leadership of ASUU had made its presentation to the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led committee set up to renegotiate the 2009 agreement signed by the two sides.
Speaking in a telephone chat with The Tide Newspaper, National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said his union had done its best in the circumstance.
“We have made our presentation to the committee and there is nothing more to add,” Osodeke said.
On when the feedback was expected from government, he said: “They promised to get back to us within a short time.”
Though he did not say anything about what the union’s presentation contained, it was gathered that the union could give the government more time to meet some demands that had financial implications.
When contacted, Briggs said his committee had met with ASUU and had done its assignment.
“We have met and ASUU have made their presentation. Some people sent me on an errand and I have to report to them. The committee is not the final authority on this matter. We are not the ones to determine what will be done,” he stated.
It would be recalled that ASUU went on a four-week warning strike on February 14 this year and had extended the strike twice, first, by eight weeks and second, by 12 weeks.
Lagos Solicit Stronger Partnership For Equitable Education
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has stated that collective committment and political will of government is required to advance quality and equitable education in the State.
The Governor who stated that the ultimate aim of government is to ensure all students in Lagos State receive quality education in a conducive environment confirmed that his administration paid 1.1billion for WAEC students in 2022 as it continue to ensure yearly increment in budgetary allocation for the sector.
The Governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat at the Y2022 Equal Summit held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island stated that the past three years has witnessed tremendous improvement in the overall value chain of the education ecosystem.
His words, “Our model of investment is informed by the desire to entrench 21st century technology into the sector. This huge investment will ultimately result in significant improvement in learning outcomes’’.
Expressing the desire of the state government in taking the education sector into an enviable height, Sanwo-Olu said the education summit is an opportunity to present the education score card and inform Stakeholders of the government’s future plans and needs of the industry.
He said the initiative organised by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Office of Sustainable Development Goals and Investment will continue to open up opportunities for public private partnership interventions and mutually beneficial investments.
According to him: “Our administration also seeks to recognise and appreciate the tremendous contribution and donations of various private partners who supported the State Government’s Education Transformation Plan, most especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown of schools.
Group Gives WAEC Scholarships To 35 Indigent Students In Imo
The Old Peers of Owerri Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation based in Abuja, Saturday awarded WAEC scholarships to 35 indigent students from seven schools in the Owerri Municipal Council of Imo.
The award is the second edition following the maiden project in 2021.
Presenting the scholarships in Owerri, the Interim National President of the organisation, Dr Nina Nwulu, urged the beneficiaries to show determination in succeeding in life.
“Under no circumstance should you joke with your education or indulge in drugs.
“The mentality that education is a scam should be jettisoned because in Nigeria, your certificate counts,” she said.
Nwulu, who described education as the “hallmark to every development,” urged the Federal Government to do the needful in resolving its impasse with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
“The issue is not about salary but about the government putting in place all the infrastructure that would make reading and learning conducive for students.
“We want our students to be exposed to every facility needed to learn properly; the lecturers are equally going through hell in terms of their packages.
“If politicians taught by teachers can be comfortable, why not the teachers,” Nwulu, a senior lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), asked.
The Coordinator of the organisation, Mr Jasper Opara, said the body aimed to assist the beneficiaries fulfill their academic pursuit.
According to him, if the students miss it at this stage of their major examination, they can lose it from there.
Opara, who explained that 25 students were sponsored in 2021, expressed delight that most of them performed excellently in the WAEC examinations.
He explained that the organisation, with different chapters in seven states and some countries, was made up of people from different tribes, who grew up and schooled in Owerri.
Also, the Secretary of the organisation, Mrs Olaedo Ike-Godson, said the body was passionate about helping government and doing charitable work, literacy, health programs, economic empowerment and sanitation.
One of the beneficiaries, Franklin Igwe from Emmanuel College, commended the organisation for the gesture.
“It will spur me to focus more on education so that when I grow up, I will be able to sponsor those around me,” another beneficiary, Miss Precious Onyemuche, said. (NAN)
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