Written by Ayo Ayodeji Friday, 25 October 2013 19:32
On Monday, 21/10/13, the academic staff of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, AOCOED, Ijanikin, Lagos, organized around Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, organized a congress of their union at the college’s main auditorium. The union is the equivalent of ASUU in universities.
The congress was organized to discuss several issues bothering on workers’ welfare and the future of the Lagos State owned teacher-training college, which is currently in a deep financial crisis. The students’ union of the college is also bound to organize a students’ congress soon to address the current tuition fee increase and several other welfare issues. The students’ fees were recently increased from N25,000.00 to N40,000.00, about 60 percent increase.
Coincidentally, the students’ resumed for a new session on Monday 21/10/13.
The lecturers are demanding for the immediate release of their N188, 826,816.00 cooperative funds from the college management, who claimed they had used the funds to pay staff salaries! This is most absurd, as the cooperative funds are wholly owned by staff. The fund is deducted from their monthly salaries to be remitted to workers’ credit and cooperative societies on the campus. The funds are workers’ savings to be made available to them when needed.
The college management claimed that due to shortage of funds they had to deep their hands into workers’ funds to part fund staff wages. AOCOED COEASU justifiable fault these drivel and challenge the management to open the financial books, as there are no justifiable reasons for management to touch the workers’ funds. It is quite clear that top management of the college have embezzled and mismanaged the workers’ cooperative fund along with several other funds.
The lecturers present concrete evidence that exposed the stealing and mismanagement of billions of naira from the college’s treasury by top management officials. They pointed out that the college’s total internally generated fund in the just concluded financial year was about N1.1 billion. Lagos State is supposed to fund the staff salaries with N125 million every month; this amounts to about N1.5 billion per annum. The total wage bill is put at about N139 million per month, in which the college management is suppose to also fund with about N15 million every month from their so-called internally generated revenue. This wouldn’t cost the management more than about N180 million per year and when deducted from the college’s internal revenue should still leave over N800 million naira. In essence, the college is not suppose to lack fund. The lecturers are therefore wondering why the management of the college is claiming the school is broke and would degenerate into stealing workers’ savings to pay workers wages.
The lecturers are also demanding for their outstanding 18-months allowance, which currently stands at about N900 million.
The lecturers also say that they are kept in the dark over their contributive pension scheme and that their monthly deducted pension fund has not been remitted to the pension administrators since January 2013. As if this is not enough, significant number of pensioners are yet to receive their pay. In addition, workers say that there is no evidence that the college management is remitting their income taxes, as they don’t have any personal income tax cards, which should serve as evidence.
The working conditions in the college are substandard and basic implements for training are not provided. For one, there are no modern day marker boards in the college lecture halls, for a teacher-training institute this is quite unfortunate.
The college management has not embarked on any capital project on the campus over the years, not even an administrative block has been built directly by the management.
What is quite clear is that there is a lot of corruption and mismanagement taken place on the campus and that the Lagos State government has been underfunding the college. This is quite typical of the Fasola APC regime. The burden of this crisis has now been shifted onto the heads of the workers and students. The workers are been owed and fees are been imposed on students combined with the decay in infrastructure.
The Lagos State government cannot claim ignorance of the corruption and mismanagement taken place, as they nominate the elements in management and council. They are mainly made up of cronies of the regime and APC. There is currently no council for the college since April 2012 when the last council was dissolved.
Unfortunately, unlike the leadership of COEASU, the leadership of the two other workers’ unions on campus, NASU and SSUCOEN are yet to stand up against all these attacks and crimes. It is only a matter of time before the pressures of their union members explode into action.
Finally, the congress of COEASU unanimously agreed to give the 14-day ultimatum to the management in spite of the activities of the agents of the school management, who came to the congress with the agenda of creating diversion.
It is important that Nigerian workers and youth solidarize with the academic staff of AOCOED in the struggle to get back their stolen cooperative fund, unpaid allowances and pension, and for better work condition.