On The Ongoing Industrial Action in Kogi State University; Who is Responsible?

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There is nobody that will be happy seeing school age citizens roaming the street except insensitive individuals and or government.
 

Sometimes ago precisely in the month of June 2016, i wrote a piece highlighting the predicaments of the staff of the tertiary institutions as it relates to their welfare as well as the expected action of the government most especially the need to treat the tertiary institutions workers differently because of their autonomous set up. Instead of appreciating that unsolicited efforts, I was mocked and tagged opposition and enemy of the government. Very unfortunate indeed.

 

As it is said, ignorance is not an excuse to violation of laws, just as inexperience of the operators of this government cannot be accepted as excuse too. This government is not sincere in their approaches and actions towards the education sector especially as it relates to the welfare of workers and infrastructural development of the state owned tertiary institutions.

 

Saying that this government paid salary arrears owed by the past administration is not only provocative but also a glaring insensitivity. Did this government met some money in the account meant for payment of salary of workers?

 

Did this government collect the bailout of 20 million naira which the past administration applied for and was to be release before the end of their tenure?

 

Like Military style this government assumed office barely two months they blatantly dissolved the Governing Councils of the tertiary institutions. And it only took the constant agitations of Unions before government reconstituted another Council more than a year after. Is that not deliberate act of weakening effective governance and smooth operation of those tertiary institutions? Had the Governing Councils were in place, some of the abnormalities that led to the current strike action could not have occurred in the first place. The question is this; why did the government hurriedly and unjustifiably dissolved the Governing Councils? What was their intention and or achievable target?

 

How does reconstitution of Governing Council amount to achievements and or meeting the demands of the Unions that will warrant call for them to shift ground on the issue of salary which is the primary responsibilities of the government to pay in the first place?

 

As the then Dean of Students, my wife was delivered of a baby at a clinic where I was unable to settle medical bills of 12, 000 naira because of non payment of salary which compelled us to embark on the “no pay no work” then. This i clearly reported in that my June 2016 piece titled ” Mass Exodus of Qualified Academics……..” (please goggle and see). Just 3 days ago, my first born took ill at 1am. I rushed him to a hospital when i had no money at home nor in the bank due to the non payment of salary by the government.

 

My own story is one out of many of our colleagues that have not been paid as much as 8 to 9 months. Our colleagues that are schooling abroad had to write “Save my Soul” appeal published in the Daily Trust for being owed their salaries as much as 9 months. I mean those that are schooling abroad that have no other means of livelihood over there.

 

Our colleagues who were employed in 2015 are being owed for the past 9 months. I think the right thing that is expected of a responsible Government is to follow due process to disengaging those in this category if the government does not want them. This can be done by paying them for the job done and pay them off too.

 

Probably the public is not aware that our senior citizens with valid letters of contract appointment are being owed as much as 9 months? Again the public may also not be aware that our colleagues on sabbatical are owed their salary as much as 9 months?

 

Let me quickly state that the person(s) that advised the government to conduct the staff screening/reforms in the tertiary institutions is or are the greatest enemies for causing this iredeemable mistakes to the state.

 

How does taken March salary to the bank even without cash backing address all these issues bothering on all the categories I mentioned above? Like I wrote somewhere, staff in the tertiary institutions are too advanced to tolerate “divide and rule” tactics in the payment of salaries as extended to other sectors by the government.

 

That is why ASUU resolved that not until the last staff is paid the last kobo owed we are not going to resume to work on an empty stomach because injury to one is injury to all.

 

From the foregoing, we should be convinced that it is not oppositions to this government that are fueling the lingering industrial crisis but the action and approach of the government that is not willing to meet with ASUU that is culpable? Let the government act responsibly and stop the blame game after all, the “screening” that was hitherto the excuse is over and the money is there. Let government stop playing politics with the future of our children that the roads and other infrastructures been put in place as claimed are meant for.

 

God bless Kogi State.

– Usman Ogbo (PhD)


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