Colleges of Education Staff Union Begins Strike over N441bn Funding Shortfall

Colleges of Education Staff Union Begins Strike over N441bn Funding Shortfall

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has ordered its members to immediately withdraw their services.

The union claimed that federal government has failed to provide the outstanding N441 billion resulting from the received needs assessment of the federal colleges of education.

It stated that with what is happening in the education sector, where all the unions are embarking on strike over poor funding and neglect, the federal government has disappointed Nigerians.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, COEASU President, Nuhu Ogirima, said after series of efforts through several correspondences to get the federal government to attend to the demands of the federal colleges of education in the country failed to yield results, the union was left with no other option than to commence a series of actions which will lead to full blown nationwide strike as soon as school reopens.

He said the National Executive Committee of the union would be meeting to approve further actions to compel the government to respond to their demands, which he said included poor funding and neglect of infrastructures of the institutions.

Speaking on the inadequate funding of federal colleges of education in the country, Ogirima said the totality of allocation to colleges of education relatively to other sister institutions was appalling, especially from 2006 to 2008.

“While the relative huge allocation to the university sub-sector in the period can be understood for obvious reasons of their enormous responsibilities and quite divergent services, that of the polytechnics, with similar conditions of service and related infrastructure with colleges of education, remains higher till date,” he said.

Ogirima said a needs assessment of the public colleges of education was conducted and a report made in 2014.

According to him, the initial cost implication of the exercise was over N900 billion, adding that the implication of the report impacted on all aspects of the infrastructure of public-owned colleges of education.

However, Ogirima said the current administration requested for a review in 2017, which was done, and the reviewed report, with the cost implication of N456 billion, was submitted to the federal government in the first quarter of 2018.

“Quite sadly, the union had to embark on another agitation in 2018 before a paltry N15billion was pledged as a palliative,” he said.

He regretted that nothing has been released by the federal government more than two years after the commitment was willingly made,.

The COEASU president also alleged that the federal government has been manipulating academic staff salary with “the imposition of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and the unilateral stoppage of payment of academic staff on sabbatical leave, imposition of non-negotiated Personal Income Tax, as well as over deduction of payable amount of Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).

“Other impropriety which the IPPIS has engendered is the non-remittance of third-party deductions especially for staff cooperative societies and the statutory union check-off dues (in contravention of ILO convention and its own laws”. These recurring challenges engendered by IPPIS reaffirm the union’s earlier conviction against the implementation of the pay platform in COE as a tertiary institution, and thus strengthens its resolve to remain opposed to it. Alternatively, a pay model consistent with tertiary education administration and management should be developed for the tertiary education sub-sector.”

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