By Adeniyi Onaara
Under the banner of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, lecturers in colleges of education across the country have given the Federal Government a 21-day deadline to meet their demands or face an indefinite strike.
The COEASU issued the ultimatum in a statement made available to our correspondent on Wednesday by Olusegun Lana, COEASU’s National Vice President and Southwest Zonal Coordinator.
According to the lecturers, the Federal Government has not been fair to colleges of education and has ignored issues affecting the union and the colleges despite numerous requests.
The union cited the Federal Government’s failure to reconstitute its renegotiation team for the COEASU-FGN 2010 Agreement; the government’s refusal to release the N15 billion revitalization fund b pledged by the government; and the government’s insistence on IPPIS over UTAS, which the union described as a more reliable alternative payment system.
The union urges stakeholders to pressure the government to act quickly before the ultimatum expires, after which there will be no going back on the planned strike.
“While the long-awaited renegotiation of the 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,” the statement read.
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.
“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 palliative 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 the 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.
“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 immediately. 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.”