JUST IN: Tension as lecturers in Colleges of Education threaten to shutdown, give FG ultimatum, (See why)

Lecturers in colleges of education across the country under the banner of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union have given the Federal Government a 21-day ultimatum to accede to their demands or be ready for an indefinite strike.

The COEASU gave the ultimatum in a statement made available to our correspondent on Wednesday by the National Vice President and Southwest Zonal Coordinator of COEASU, Olusegun Lana.

The lecturers said the Federal Government has not been fair to colleges of education and had neglected issues affecting the union and the colleges despite many entreaties.

The union listed some of the issues with the government as the failure of the Federal Government to reconstitute its renegotiation team for COEASU-FGN 2010 Agreement; non-release of the N15bn revitalization fund b pledged by the government and insistence on IPPIS against UTAS which the union described as a more reliable alternative payment system.

The union urge stakeholders to prevail on the government to do the needful now before the expiration of the ultimatum after which they said there would be no going back on the planned industrial action.

The statement read, “While the long-anticipated renegotiation of 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. 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.”