By Linda Violet Musa
The leadership of Colleges of Education Academic of Staff Union (COEASU), has given a 21 days ultimatum to the Federal government and demand immediate resolution to some cogent issues affecting the country’s colleges of education, failure which the union will embark on strike.
Among the burning issues listed by the union are; COEASU-FG 2010 agreement, Non release of pledged N15b revitalization fund, poor funding, insistence on IPPPIS against UTAS.
According to a statement jointly signed by COEASU’s National President, Dr. Smart Olugbeko, and General Secretary, Dr. Ahmed Bazza Lawan, at the closing of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) held in Kogi State, the union said; “The National Executive Council (NEC) of our great Union convened at Federal College of Education, Okene, Kogi State on Friday, 6th May, 2022 to compile the outcome of referendum conducted across all Chapters nationwide, re-assess the seriousness of Government towards resolution of festering issues and decide the way forward. NEC observed with consternation that the FG has been ridiculously unfair to the Union by taking the understanding shown over time for granted and leaving issues unaddressed in spite of the Union’s entreaties.
“NEC specifically noted with dismay that the following unacceptable situations remain unaddressed: Dilly-Dallying Posture of Government to Renegotiation of COEASU-FGN 2010 Agreement. While the long anticipated renegotiation of COEASU-FGN 2010 Agreement holds enormous promise for mutual resolution of several challenges bedeviling the COE system, the FG has failed to accord the exercise deserved priority. Ridiculously, the FG has refused to constitute her own renegotiation team after acknowledging receipt of our Union’s team list on her own request for over two months now.
“Non-Release of Pledged
N15b Revitalization Fund. Government has refused to accede to our demand for the fulfillment of her own pledge of N15b revitalization fund. Apart from being a far cry from N478b being the outcome of the 2014 Presidential Needs Assessment across public COEs, the delay in its release has made nonsense of the value due to inflation. More ludicrously, media reports quoted the Honourable Minister for Education as having said, on various public occasions, that the revitalization fund had been released by the FG, whereas what we received was a call to propose modalities for the disbursement. The frustrating wait for the disbursement of this fund has continued ever thereafter.
“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 the 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, repression of Union activities, to mention just a few. Many Colleges find it difficult to run smoothly due to non-release of running cost by Government. Many State Governments have abdicated their responsibility as proprietors to TETFund, as the only projects you see in the Colleges are TETFund projects.
“FG’s Recalcitrant Insistence on IPPIS against more reliable alternative of UTAS. The Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) is causing more havoc to tertiary institutions than good. Up till the end of March, 2022, one thousand two hundred and nineteen (1,219) lecturers in COEs are experiencing one problem or the other with IPPIS. COEASU has demanded the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), an alternative innovation of the 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 the peculiarities of tertiary institutions. It is therefore ludicrous that FG has remained adamant on retaining IPPIS despite its injurious effects.
“After extensive deliberations on the outcome of referendum conducted across Chapters of the Union, NEC resolved to issue Government a 21-day ultimatum beginning Monday 9th May, 2022. NEC further resolved that in the unexpected event that Government fails to do the needful within the period of the ultimatum, the Union shall declare appropriate industrial action. Finally, NEC called on well-meaning Nigerians and stakeholders in the tertiary education sector to prevail on Government to urgently take appropriate actions before this ultimatum.”