“As the ministry made proposal to settle the lecturers’ arrears owed since 2009 in installments, the commission wrote to kick against the plan.”
The ongoing nationwide strike by lecturers of polytechnics and colleges of education continues after the lecturers were told on Tuesday that a government agency was opposed to the payment of their salary arrears.
The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, told lawmakers and the striking lecturers that the Salaries, Wages and Income Commission was opposed to the payment of arrears owed them.
Mr. Wike said this at a meeting organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Education in Abuja. The meeting, as reported by PREMIUM TIMES, was also attended by leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU.
“As the ministry made proposal to settle the lecturers’ arrears owed since 2009 in installments, the commission wrote to kick against the plan,” Mr. Wike said. “Government has been meeting on what to do, but the commission opposes the proposal I made to pay the arrears in installment.”
The minister said the commission was opposed to the proposal claiming that it was not consulted before the 2009 CONTISSS agreement between the lecturers and the federal government was reached.
He said the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Pius Anyim, has invited those involved to a meeting with a view to resolving the matter.
He listed those invited to include the ministers of Education and Labour, the Head of Service and the Wages Commission.
The minister assured that the Federal Government would soon resolve the ongoing strike, saying it was deploying all means to reach an agreement with the unions.
“We owe this country a great duty. Nobody will be sitting down happily to see our children staying at home,” he said.
On the issue of the white paper on visitation panels to polytechnics, Mr. Wike assured that it would soon be released.
The Chairman of the House Committee, Aminu Suleiman (APC-Kano) appealed to the two unions and the government for amicable solution to the issues.
The ASUP President, Chibuzo Asumagha, expressed satisfaction with the minister’s assurance, saying that his union never rejected the installment payment.
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Abdulwahid Omar, cautioned the wages commission on its interference.
“The wages and salaries commission should not come in at this time to stall the arrangement between government and the two unions, “he said.
Speaking after the meeting, the ASUP spokesperson, Clement Chairman, told PREMIUM TIMES that the union was surprised by the stance of the wages commission and the federal government.
“The last time we had a meeting we were talking about modalities of payment, now they are saying that government has set up a technical committee to look at the matter because there is an observation from salary and wages commission, which is actually a little set back,” he said.
Mr. Chirman said the committee set up by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, to review the controversy was given one week to complete its assignment.
“It was also advised that the committee should meet in a space of one week; after that another meeting will be held,” he said.
ASUP has been on strike since October 2013 while COEASU has been on strike since December 2013.
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