6th November, 2014
By Oluwakemi Akintade
The urge to shed more light on the crises stricken Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu-Ijebu formerly Ogun State College of Education (OSCE), Ijebu-Ode has driven me to put pen on paper. Perhaps after reading this article the good people of Ogun State home and abroad will actually see who is playing politics, May be the Ogun state government or Staff of TASCE themselves.
Prior to the swearing in of this present government under the leadership of Governor Ibikunle Amosun on 29th May 2011, TASCE staff had embarked on an industrial action for almost 3 months to press home their demands on the inability of the OGD-led administration/management of the school in implementing the new salary structure(CONUASS/CONTEDISS) approved in July 2009 by the federal government for tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Posterity will never forgive me, if I fail to recount happenings in Ogun state under Governor Gbenga Daniel. Between January 2009 & May 28th 2011, there was a protracted crisis between the executive and legislative arm of government. We will recall it was the era of G11 loyal to the governor and G15 in the Ogun State House of Assembly. The unending feud between these 2 arms of government hampered the daily activities of governance in the state, as the executive arm of government was restricted to spending the little funds available from monthly allocation it received from the federal government in executing government projects. Worse still, members of the 6th legislature in the state could not bury their hatchet in the interest of the citizenry, as it passed a bill that no financial institution in the country should do business with the State government. The rest is history now. As the adage goes “When two elephants fight, the grasses beneath suffer”. So many sectors in the state were affected, amongst which were all state owned tertiary institutions, as government was unable to release subvention/salary, let alone implementing the new salary structure.
Precisely in May 2010, a meeting with the Governor and all heads of state owned tertiary institutions was held to discuss the way forward. The Governor had explained that due to the financial embargo placed by the OGHA barring the state government from sourcing for funds from financial institutions, it regretted its inability to release subvention/salary to schools. It was at this meeting heads of institutions were advised to look inwards via its various internally generated revenue (IGR) and if the need arises, to approach financial houses to ensure its various workforce were paid their salaries. The state government had promised to bear its responsibilities once Ogun state was financially buoyant.
Institutions such as OOU (Ago-Iwoye), TASUED (Ijagun) and MAPA (Abeokuta) through their various governing councils via their respective IGR started paying salaries internally to their members of staff, implemented the new salary structure for their workforce and even went ahead to offset backlog of arrears accumulated. A typical example is the TASUED management(Ijagun) which secured the much publicized N500 million loan to offset arrears. While other state owned institutions seem to have overcome their various problems through their IGR, TASCE Omu-Ijebu was left behind. It was an old institution now relocated and re-established on a new site in October 2008. The state government was in a dilemma; torn between several issues peculiar to TASCE among which were construction of new buildings, the IGR of the institution was still meagre and in order to stabilise revenue made internally, the Ogun state government under the leadership of OGD had agreed to be responsible for 100 percent salary released to the school as against the percentage ratio it maintained with other state owned institutions.
Amidst paucity of funds in the state during the crises between the executive and legislative arm of government, the OGD-led administration constructed and completed the someg buildings in TASCE, Omu-Ijebu between October 2008 and May 2011.
Earlier during the Amosun-led administration, he met staff of TASCE, Omu-Ijebu to persuade them to call off their strike. In order to honour the new government and open room for negotiation, the executives of the three unions in the campus (NASU, SSUCEON and COEASU) called for emergency congresses where it was unanimously agreed that the industrial action should be suspended. In June 2011, the strike was called off by TASCE staff hoping that the new government in power will meet their demands. In return the state government released half of the subvention of the old salary structure, approximately N22 million monthly to the institution between May 2011 and July 2011. Full salary of N44 million was paid promptly between August 2011 and September 2012 to the school.
In September 2012, after waiting for 17 months for the government to implement the new salary structure and having met with the Commissioner for Education, Barrister Segun Odubela, 25 times by Union executives, TASCE staff began a street protest which took them to the Iwe-Iroyin house in Abeokuta agitating for several things, among which was the removal of the Provost and Registrar as they claimed that both principal officers were not concerned about the welfare of staff in the college; the constitution of a governing council which will be an intermediary between the state government and TASCE community; implementation of the new salary structure; relocation of the college to its former base in Ijagun where it will generate enough IGR; etc.
In response the Ogun state government conveyed meeting with the unions of the college in October 2012. The meeting was chaired by the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa. He notified representatives of the various unions that a governing council had already been constituted, that as soon as Governor Ibikunle Amosun gives approval, the names would be announced. He promised that government will issue a commitment letter to the school management indicating when the new salary structure will be implemented and what modalities would be used to pay the salary arrears.
A commitment letter dated 20 November 2012 duly signed by the Commissioner of Education was addressed to the Provost of the College of Education which was circulated among members of staff. Paragraph 1 of the letter implied that Ogun state government was willing to implement the new salary structure for the college effective from 1st July, 2013 but no issue of arrears modalities were stated in the letter. This generated a lot of ripples among staff of the college that the Secretary to the State Government had reneged on his promise to state the condition of payment for salary arrears in the commitment letter.
Another bone of contention was that the said commitment letter did not have a reference number. The management of the college pleaded with staff through the various unions to allow peace to reign in school campus and to allow government implement the new salary structure before taking further steps on salary arrears. In good faith, staff accepted and normalcy returned to the school campus. Again between October 2012 and June 2013, the Ogun state government paid the full old salary structure to TASCE, Omu-Ijebu. As at June 2013, the government had owed TASCE Omu-Ijebu 26 months salary arrears accumulated between May 2011 and June 2013.
•To be continued next week.
•Akintade wrote from Aiyepe Road, Sagamu,
Ogun State, Nigeria.
•E-mail: [email protected]
The Untold Story Of TASCE(2)
By Oluwakemi Akintade
Continued from last Thursday
In July 2013, government implemented the new salary structure (CONTEDISS). It was sign of new things to come in the college. Staff of the college showered praises and encomium on the governor saying words like “SIA NI O COME 2015”. It was celebration galore
AGONISING TIMES FOR THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,OMU-IJEBU
Between August 2013 and September 2014, Subvention/Salary which covers other monthly expenditures and expenses has been delayed and irregular. Only appropriate quarters in the government can give reasons why?
As at 15th May 2014, TASCE staffs were being owed both March & April 2014 salary. The ogun state Commissioner of Education in his ministerial mediachat on the same day denied state government indebtedness to the school.
On the 19th May 2014, union executives of the college had met with Governor Amosun for the first time since assumption of office in 2011. He apologized for delay in March & April 2014 salary and promised it will be paid soonest while monthly salary will be released latest 7th of the succeeding month.
On 26th August 2014, Governor Ibikunle Amosun acknowledged publicly on OGTV Live program between 8-10pm that the state government was owing TASCE Omu-Ijebu backlog of salary arrears. He said and I quote “The case of TASCE is pathetic and government would do the needful in the paying the arrears but our government can’t pay at once. They (TASCE staff) should be rest assured we would not owe them any kobo”.
A meeting scheduled to hold with Commissioner of Finance (Mrs. Kemi Adeosun) on Friday 26th September, 2014 with representatives of the College Unionnever saw the light of the day as it was postponed to Friday 10th October, 2014. Again the Commissioner of Finance was absent. This further infuriated the unions as members of the college community had spent their Eid –Mubarak festive period without a dime. As a result of this it was agreed that College staff should stage a 3-day protest the following week.
14 -16th October 2014, TASCE staff had staged a 3-day protest in Ijebu-Ode carrying placards with inscription such as “ AMOSUN PAY US OUR SEPTEMBER SALARY”, “SIA MOTIVATE TASCE STAFF”, “OGUN STATE GOVERNMENT PAY US OUR 48MONTHS SALARY ARREARS”, “NO TO IRREGULAR SALARY – AMOSUN PAY PROMPTLY” etc. The state governor on his local government inspection tour in Ijebu –Ode on 16th October, 2014 denied owing TASCE any kobo only to release September 2014 salary to the institution the following day 17th October, 2014. Media houses such as Nigeria tell in its bulletin of 16th October, 2014 had published story saying “AMOSUN IS OWING TASCE NO KOBO” while PM News Nigeria and the Nation published similar story on the 17th October, 2014.
Fine, neither former governor (Otunba Gbenga Daniel) nor the present governor (Senator Ibikunle Amosun) personality is owing TASCE any kobo but ogun state government under their tutelage. To apportion blame on the previous administration by the present government saying it left a huge debt profile of 48months salary arrears is unfair. I will rather advice H.E (Senator Ibikunle Amosun) to face business of governance rather than attempting to score cheap political point. May I say emphatically that OGD’s administration is owing TASCE omu-ijebu salary arrears of 22months (July 2009 – April 2011) while SIA’s government is owing 26months (May 2011 – June 2013) totally 48months. Since government is continuum inheriting both assets and liabilities, the government of the day should call representatives of various unions in the college for negotiation and discuss the modalities of paying their salary arrears.
The struggle by TASCE staff to press home their demands took a new dimension on Monday, 20th October 2014 as the entire management team was barred from entering the school campus. Reasons for locking out the institutions management team outof office is as follow-
i) If the Provost could get a 2nd term in office by lobbying the government, then he should also lobby the government to pay the salary arrears.
ii) The Registrar whose tenure in office ended in October 2014 was re-appointed for another term by the state government. A man who does not have the required 17 years wealth of experience from any higher institution, as stated in the enabling law establishing the college of education. It clearly shows that the state government under Governor Amosun is willing to continually put a square peg in a round hole. Then why all noise on “Ogun Standard”
It was agreed by TASCE staff since both principal officers could lobby the state government to achieve their personal gains then they should be able to lobby appropriate quarters in government to ensure that the backlog of salary arrears are paid.
Both NASU AND SSUCEON TASCE chaptershave vowed to pursue their cause to a logical conclusion even if it will consume the personality of the Provost and Registrar while COEASU TASCE chapter is a toothless bull dog as the state government had succeeded in infiltrating the Union. Some key members and executives of COEASU TASCE chapter are now card carrying members of the ruling party (APC) in ogun state.
In response, the state government through the Commissioner of Education and Management of the institution had declared a 2 weeks recess when it was discovered that staff were coming to their work place but the management was locked out, even the presence of heavily harmed mobile police officers on Tuesday, 21st October 2014 could not savage the situation.
Having just resumed from the compulsory 2weeks recess on Monday, 3rd November 2014, atmosphere in college was calm until the Deputy Provost arrived. Immediately after his arrival, tension rose as the college staff warned him to leave the campus insisting that no management team is allowed into the college until salary arrears are paid. He was obstinate, this led to deflation of the tyres of his vehicle. At the end he was bullied out of campus with staff chanting slogan such as “WE ARE TIRED OF YOU PEOPLE AS OUR MANAGEMENT”, “THIS MANAGEMENT IS A BUNDLE OF DISGRACE THAT WILL ONLY LOBBY FOR THEIR PERSONAL GAINS” etc.
AGITATION OF TASCE STAFF
The agitation of TASCE staff includes the following – Immediate payment of all 48 months salary arrears owed by the state government, put a round peg in a round hole by appointing a person with relevant credentials and experience as the Registrar of the College of Education, Omu-Ijebu and Constitution of a governing council which will act as the bridge between government & TASCE community, and also curb excesses of the management of the school.
PLEA TO BOTH PARTIES
i) The Ogun state government and TASCE community should reach an agreement in the interest of students of the College.
ii) It will be impossible for the ogun state government to clear 48months salary arrears at once but government should at least rise up to its responsibilities by making reasonable modalities.
Government of the day in the state should stop comparing other state own institutions such as OOU (Ago-Iwoye), TASUED(Ijagun), MAPA(Abeokuta) with stable Internally Generated Revenue with TASCE (Omu-Ijebu).Even the so called vibrant state owned institutions through their IGR’s only payNet pay as against the expected Gross pay to their workforceexpecting the state government to release its own percentage before clearing other deductions such as co-operatives and bank loans.Finally it is on record that all the 3 unions (NASU, SSUCEON AND COEASU) of TASCE have lobbied several government functionaries including the Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker, Deputy Speaker(OGHA), Chief of Staff, Secretary to the State Government, Commissioner of Finance and Education counterpart, Head of Service, State Accountant General, Chairmen of local governments in the state to mention a few. In all they have made 78 contacts within and outside government, had 90 meetingswith theCommissioner of Education,yet it has it has yielded no tangible result.
As at the time of writing this piece, TASCE Omu –Ijebu is being owed October 2014 salary and 48months salary arrears by ogun state government. The visitor H.E (Governor Ibikunle Amosun) has not visited the school since assumption of office in 2011. No building has been erected by the present state government. My candid advice to the Governor of ogun state is simple; Government is about sincerity, making and fulfilling promises, responsibility and creativity,mostly importantly drawing a scale of balance between welfare of its workforce and Urban renewal. It should not be at detriment of each other.
To all ex-student of this great citadel of learning home and in diaspora, also the good people of ogun state, I hope I have been able to paint a graphic detail of events preceding various actions taken by TASCE staff. The question that comes to my mind is simple- who then is playing politics; Ogun state government or TASCE? This is the untold story of Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu formerly Ogun State College of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode.
•Akintade wrote from Aiyepe Road, Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. E-mail: [email protected]