Edo College of Education workers protest 9 months without salary

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GODWIN FRANCIS GODWIN, Benin City

Workers of the defunct College of Education, Ekiadolor, Edo State have appealed to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to end their suffering by paying their outstanding nine months’ salary.

 Leaders of the  workers  Union(academic and non- academic) led  Comrade Fred  Omonuwa stormed the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Secretariat in Benin City, the state capital, Tuesday, where the protested nine months of non- payment of their salaries.

They debunked media reports that the state government did not owe the workers any salary. The chairman, College of Education Academic Staff (COEASU), Comrade Fred Omonuwa, who spoke on behalf of the affected workers, appealed to the state government to save workers of the institution from untimely death due to their unpaid salaries.

He lamented that majority of their workers could no longer cater for the basic needs of their family while other had been ejected from their rented apartments by their landlords.

“Very recently, the Edo State government set up a panel to investigate these institutions including their financial status. We are aware they have submitted part of the report before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. They have finished public hearing for Ekiadolor.”

“However, we are more worried because of the lockdown; the state government still owes us up to 9 months’ salaries. We had expected that the government should at least pay us at least three months to alleviate our stress,” he said.

“Every day, we hear that the government has paid workers’ salaries up to date. Are we not government workers? We are very disappointed. The government should do something,” he pleaded.

When contacted, the commissioner for Education, Hon Jimoh Ijegbai, said that the state government had not defaulted in remitting its monthly subvention to the institution.

He said: “I am not aware if they are owed up to 9 months. One thing I know is that the state government remits the subvention to the institution every month. However, I will find out and get back to you.”

But the provost of the institution, Dr. Friday Eduwen, said that the monthly N66million subvention by the state government is no longer enough since the college was shut down in 2016.

He explained that prior to the closure; the college had augmented the salary payment with 35 per cent through school fees and Internally Generated Revenue.

Eduwen appealed to the state government to either increase the subvention to the school or reverse to the old order where students will be recalled back to campus.

“Our appeal is that the government should increase the subvention so that we can pay or go back to the old order. Our monthly wage bill is N90million and we get N66million monthly. We are also responsible for the payment of pensioners while other institutions are supported with N20m to pay pension but we get nothing,” he said.

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