This indeed has not been the best of times for Ekiti State, as hardly a week goes by without one form of public protest or the other. Just as that of the organised labour was being settled, protests for and against the activities Economic and Financials Crimes Commission, EFCC, by the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state erupted. As if in a battle not to be out done by others, angry workers of the Ekiti State university, late last week locked down their institution.
The entire workforce of the University marched to the entrance gate of the 34 year old institution protesting the none -payment of six month subventions, salary arrears as well as cooperative deductions.
They lampooned the state government for compounding their woes over its failure to pay the subventions due to the school since January this year, adding that for over six months now, all has not been well with the University in terms of the funding, especially concerning adequate payment of the staff’s salaries and other emoluments.
But both the varsity’s management and the state government seem to have been managing the situation by perfectly well before now, persuading the staff to be patient.
Thereby making everyone to believe that the institution is faring well, paying its staff salaries as at when due and thereby making the workers happy.
Praises and encomium
This feat got the Vice Chancellor, Professor Oye Bandele the praise and ecomium of Governor Ayodele Fayose, who expressed delight at the way and manner the University management has been able to cater for the staff welfare and emoluments since January, inspite of his administration‘s failure to pay its subventions since December, 2015. This is due to dwindling allocation from the Federation account, occasioned by the sharp fall in oil price in the international market.
Governor Fayose, who is the visitor to the university and had graced the institution’s 21st convocation held recently at the University campus, had appreciated the school management for having performed admirably well in financing the school’s payment of staff salaries and emoluments without receiving due subventions from his government for six months.
Attributing the development to the university’s management’s initiative in some investment such as its new brick-making, bread baking and Information Technology ventures among others, the governor gave the impression that the investments have assisted in shoring up the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the school, hence the payment of staff salaries and other emoluments hasn’t been a problem.
His words: “I want to appreciate the governing council of the university for your efforts and outstanding performance at a time like this when financing government has become a huge challenge in the face of the dwindling federal allocations. Your performance for the six months has been commendable.”
The bubble bursts
But on Monday, July 11, it seemed the patience of the staff of the institution had been stretched beyond its limits as they paralyzed academic and administrative activities in protest against what they alleged as non-payment of six-month subventions, salary arrears as well as non-remmittance of cooperative deductions from their salaries into the accounts of three cooperative societies of the workers in the school.
Alleging that they have found out that the governor was making efforts to exclude them from the bail-out it just received from the federal government, the protesting staff prevented vehicular and human movement in and out of the institution as they ensured that its giant gate was under lock and key.
Many vehicles were parked outside as many of the staff and students loitered about in front of the school gate.
The unions who participated in the protest include National Association of Area Technologists (NAT), Non-Accademic Staff Union of Universities (NASAU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSUU) among others.
According to them, contrary to government’s position that the institution’s recent investment in some ventures to shore up its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), has made it capable of taking care of paying salary, emoluments and renumerations, all is not well, as the management has allegedly been able to pay a paltry 20 per cent of the staff’s salary arrears since January this year.
They maintained that the management had failed to live up to its responsibilities due to the failure of the state government to pay subventions since January this year.
Speaking about their plight, Chairman of SSANU, Mr.Kolapo Olatunde, said: “The state government released the universities’ subvention last in December last year, which means since January, we haven’t been getting the subventions.
The government has erroneously believed that the management take care of the full salary payment without the subvention. But the reality is that we have only been receiving 20% of our salaries since January till date with deductions, and even the deductions were not remitted into the accounts of the cooperative societies on campus.”
“We also heard that the state government is not putting EKSU in the agenda of bail-out from the federal government given erroneous impression that all is well with us, whereas we have been suffering in silence.
Chairman of NAT, Engineer Awogbemi Omobola, attributed the non-payment of the staff’s full salary to the fact that the institution has exhausted all its available resources to pay net salaries of workers. He said: “The institution has even been struggling to augment the payment of 20% of salary with N250 million monthly from the IGR. We have remained patient with the management because it has been trying, but with this protest, we want to tell Ekiti and the world that they should not allow the insitution to collapse as this is the only asset the state has.
Mr. Tope Akanmu, the institution’s NASU chairman who itemized their demands, urged the government to resume the payment of monthly subvention to the institution and also include it in the bailout scheme from the federal government. He lamented that despite series of letters written to the state government prior to the last convocation in June, nothing has been done to alleviate the suffering of the institution’s staff, “ he said.
Reactions and denials
Reacting to the allegation leveled against the government on the bail-out funds, Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Lanre Ogunsuyi, denied the allegation that the government was planning to exclude the institution’s staff from benefiting from the bail-out funds it just received, adding that such rumour was being peddled by social media as well as some hostile newspapers who do not mean well for the government.
His words: “ It is not true that Ekiti State government is excluding the staff of EKSU from the bail-out scheme. The issue of the bail-out scheme and how it would be disbursed to pay workers’ outstanding salaries is yet to even be discussed.
Governor Fayose cannot do anything that would be to the detriment of the staff of the institution because he has their welfare in his heart as they remain part of the civil servants in the state. The rumour of the alleged exclusion is being mischievously peddled by the opposition through some social media platforms and some newspapers who are hostile to the government and are bent on destroying the image of the government.
On the contrary, the governor is working towards ensuring that all the civil servants in the state get what is due them in the shortest possible time, “ he said.