Colleges of Education threaten strike over FG’s delay to pay N15bn revitalisation fund
Obviously inspired by the month-long strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of University, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) is spoiling for war over alleged recalcitrance of the Federal Government to pay N15 billion revitalisation funds.
Smart Olugbeko, National President of COEASU in a statement on Tuesday, said it appears the government is testing its patience by reneging on meeting demands raised by the union all of which would strengthen teacher education in Nigeria.
He threatened that the Union will in the next few weeks call a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to take necessary actions as permissible by the Trade Union Act if the government fails to do the needful.
Highlighting the grievances of the Union, Olugbeko said, ”in its characteristic disposition to peaceful resolution of issues, COEASU has between August and December 2021 met with the Minister, the Permanent Secretary, Directors, and other officials of government, who have roles in addressing the lingering issues between the Union and the government many times”.
He said the issues of Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, the crises being created by the imposition of IPPIS and the release of the N15 billion Revitalisation Fund are critical to the development of Colleges of Education in Nigeria and the Union has put these among others in the front burner for government to quickly resolve them.
”As critical as these issues are, the Federal government has been lackadaisical in resolving them,” he said.
He said the Federal Government in 2013 constituted a Presidential Committee to assess the needs of Colleges of Education in Nigeria, the Report submitted in 2014 by the team indicated that the sum of Three Hundred and Ninety-One Billion, Eighty-Six Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Eight thousand, Six Hundred and Thirty-Six Naira (N391,086,738,636.00), which was later reviewed in 2017 by the Federal Ministry of Education to Four Hundred and Fifty-Six Billion, Five Hundred and Ninety-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Fourteen Naira, Eighteen Kobo (N465,599,691,914.18), would be needed to reposition Colleges of Education in Nigeria for better performance and for national development.
However, the Federal Government citing paucity of funds in 2018 agreed to release N15 billion to revitalise Colleges of Education in Nigeria but failed to redeem the pledge.
“COEASU has been consistent in mounting pressure on the government to release this fund to colleges to meet their urgent needs that are hampering teaching and learning.
“The government has totally abandoned its responsibility of adequately funding of teacher education as it has left Colleges of Education in Nigeria to continue to suffer from infrastructural decay while the running of the Colleges is being done by the paltry Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Colleges.
“This attitude of the government has further watered-down standards in our colleges and demotivated both staff and students as there are inadequate lecture rooms, ill-equipped laboratory, obsolete library, and unconducive learning environment.
“Government has demonstrated total disrespect for our maturity in handling issues and has mistaken our understanding for weakness. The Union is therefore calling on the Federal Government to quickly commence the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement with the Union and release the N15 billion Revitalisation Fund to our Colleges”.