COEASU threatens strike, gives FG 21-day ultimatum

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The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has given the Federal Government (FG) a 21-day ultimatum to address all lingering issues with the Union, or else it would be forced to embark on a nationwide industrial action.

President of the Union, Comrade Nuhu Ogirima, made the declaration on Wednesday at a press briefing in Abuja, while lamenting the total neglect of the Colleges of Education by the government.   

“The Union, COEASU, is again compelled by circumstances to bring to the fore the prevailing rapid and awful condition of both staff and infrastructure in public Colleges of Education (COE). Please, do recall that in August, 2019, the Union transmitted a memo passionately requesting Mr. President to intervene in addressing the plight of the public COE system. The call was predicated on decades of utter neglect in the COE system, which the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) could not successfully address. The memo, published as an open letter to Mr. President, was also copied to both Honourable Minister of Education and his Labour and Employment (FML & E) counterpart. In response to our follow-up correspondences, both FME and FML & E had indicated that they were awaiting the President’s response. Sadly, we all are still awaiting the response, almost one year after the memo was received at the Presidency, while the system further degenerates,” Ogirima remarked.

According to the COEASU’s helmsman, “Between 2013 and now, the Union did not merely write but also engaged, severally, FME and other related government Ministries, Departments and Agencies on all the lingering and emergent challenges of COEs. While FME constituted a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to handle the issues in 2017, it is quite disheartening to note that nothing substantial was achieved by the RRT, as the challenges linger on and consequently  culminated into the brief national strike observed in October and November 2018.”

He stated that the COEASU in the spirit of patriotism suspended the 2018 strike after the FG made some pledges, regretting that “Incidentally, the trust was misplaced as none of the pledges; even the paltry fraction of N15bn only as a palliative, out of four hundred and eighty-six billion required as at 2017, to cushion the effects of the non-implementation of Needs Assessment, and others have not been fulfilled till date. In addition to the lingering issues, the following became quite manifest and the Union has no option but to issue an ultimatum to the government.

“Double standard deployed by FME and FML & E against the COE, relative to other tertiary institutions;

“Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) rather dubiously preferred, and constituted, in 2016, the now moribund inter-ministerial committee on the implementation of CONTISS 15 (a.k.a. Migration) for the lower cadre in COEs, instead of its express implementation as done for the other similar subsector;

“Office of the Accountant – General of the Federation (OAGF) effected deduction of COEASU check-off dues at source from the promotion arrears paid to some of our members from January to November 2018 but has continually withheld same in spite of the request for remittance to the Union;

“The imposition of IPPIS on the COE system bedevilled the payment of emoluments of staff with anomalies, infractions and deprivations. Third party-deductions are not being effected in most colleges. A number of our members on Sabbatical and Study Leaves have not been included on pay-roll, and worst of all check-off dues have been withheld, unremitted to the Union since February, 2020, ostensibly to stifle the Union of Funds and cripple her activities.”

Speaking also on the State Governments’ insensitivity to the plight of their COEs, Ogirima said: “The situation is same, or probably worse, in most of the states of the federation. Most state governments do toe the line of the Federal Government in the handling of the affairs of their COEs.”

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