By Daniel Ayantoye
Staff of the Kwara State College of Ilorin yesterday staged a protest over their unpaid salary arrears.
The protesters who are members of the Senior Staff Union in Colleges of Education, Nigeria (SSUCOEN), Chapter and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), bore placards with different inscriptions also chanted various slogans to decry alleged injustice by the school management and state government.
Speaking to National Pilot, the SSUCOEN Chairman, Comrade Olomu Olaitan revealed that no fewer than 40 members had been lost to the struggle.
“The resultant effect of this non-payment of salaries is just too enormous. We have been having people dying untimely. Over 40 staff have died since the issue of salary arrears started two years ago,” he said.
This he said necessitated the protest, adding that they were owed backlog of promotions for about four years.
“We are not happy that we have to stress ourselves to demand for our salaries after we had worked. We have had series of meetings, written letters to the management and the state government and copied appropriate quarters. We feel our letters were not presented to the Governor, if so he should have come to our aid,” he lamented.
Olaitan, however, enjoined the state government to take over payment of salaries, saying that the school management can no longer resolve the issue.
Similarly, his counterpart, Najeem Anas Chairman of Non-Academic Staff Union COED Ilorin chapter who confirmed the deaths said, “The Internally Generated Revenue of the college is not adequate to settle the salary arrears.”
He also appealed to the state government to urgently address the issue to alleviate sufferings of the affected staff.
“We want the state government to come to our aid. While we appreciate the government for the past payments, we are still look forward for clearing of the backlog. So many people have died, and according to what we heard, some of the cases were due to inability to pay for health bill and sufferings.
Reacting, the Deputy Provost Administration of COED, Dr. Mukaila Taiwo who spoke on behalf of the Provost, Dr. Isiaka Opobiyi expressed disappointment over the protest.
He confirmed that though some people had actually died but the figure was exaggerated, adding that the deaths were of natural cause and not related to the salary arrears.
He assured that the management would clear the bascklog as soon as the subvention for the last quarter is received.
“If the last quarter intervention is paid which is the remaining one from the government for this year, it will cover the two- month salary owed. The government has already paid a large chunk of the interventions before. And, for the months ahead, we don’t have any problem because by then, we would have started admitting students and we will be able to pay with our Internally Generated Revenue.
Speaking on the issue, the State Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Aminat Ahmed expressed dissatisfaction over the protest, describing the protesters are ingrates.
“They are ingrates, instead of them to be grateful to the state government at clearing the backlog they embarked on protest,” she said.
“We have told them to continue their Sandwich to boost their IGR and if they are not doing their job who should be blamed? They should be held for their hardship not government.”