By Rita Esegine
The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), on Tuesday 15 February, 2023, enjoined the Federal government to avoid a looming industrial action in the nation’s Colleges by addressing the pending agreements it entered with them urgently.
COEASU in a statement signed by its National President, Dr. Smart Olugbeko, said; “The Union in its characteristic disposition to peaceful resolution of issues has between August and December 2021 met with the Minister, the Permanent Secretary, Directors, and other officials of government that have roles in addressing the lingering issues between the Union and the government several times.
“Government has demonstrated total disrespect for our maturity in handling issue and has mistaken our understanding for weakness.
“The Union is therefore calling on the Federal Government to quickly commence the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement with the Union and release the N15 billion Revitalisation Fund to our Colleges. The Union will in the next few weeks call the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to take necessary actions as permissible by the Trade Union Act if government fails to do the needful.”
The Union further explained; “The issues of Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, the crises being created by the imposition of IPPIS and the release of the N15 billion Revitalisation Fund are critical to development of Colleges of Education in Nigeria and the Union has put these among others in the front burner for government to quickly resolve them. As critical as these issues are, the Federal government has been lackadaisical in resolving them.
“The Federal Government in 2013 constituted a Presidential Committee to assess the needs of Colleges of Education in Nigeria, the Report submitted in 2014 by the Team indicated that the sum of Three Hundred and Ninety One Billion, Eighty Six Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight thousand, Six Hundred and Thirty Six Naira (N391,086,738,636.00), which was later reviewed in 2017 by the Federal Ministry of Education to Four Hundred and Fifty Six Billion, Five Hundred and Ninety-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Fourteen Naira, Eighteen Kobo (N465,599,691,914.18), would be needed to reposition Colleges of Education in Nigeria for better performance and for national development.
“The Federal Government citing paucity of fund in 2018 agreed to release N15 billion to revitalise Colleges of Education in Nigeria. The Union has been consistent in mounting pressure on government to release this fund to colleges to meet their urgent needs that are hampering teaching and learning.
“The government has totally abandoned its responsibility of adequately funding teacher education as the government has left Colleges of Education in Nigeria to continue to suffer from infrastructural decay while the running of the Colleges is being done by the paltry Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Colleges.
“This attitude of government has further watered-down standard in our colleges and demotivated both staff and students as there are inadequate lecture rooms, ill-equipped laboratory, obsolete library, and unconducive learning environment.
“The various efforts made by the Union to make government live up to its promise has not yielded any positive result. Our Union has been careful in deploying the instrumentality of strike to resolve the issues which we believe can be resolved through dialogue, but it seems this government has preference for crisis as has shown in its dealings with unions that it has no respect for peaceful resolution of issues. COEASU is a teacher-training Colleges based union, all our members are professional teachers, we have perfect understanding of what disruption in academic calendar through strike action can cause the students mentally, socially, and psychologically, thus our cautious approach to the use of strike.”