Members of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), The Polytechnic Ibadan chapter, yesterday raised an alarm that some members of the union are dying in various hospitals across the state over inability to afford drugs needed for their treatment due to the non-payment of their eight-month salary arrears by the Oyo state government.
The union, while declaring that it will not suspend ongoing indefinite strike until the state government offsets the eight-month salaries of its members, however urged stakeholders in the state to prevail on the government to stop playing politics with the lives of its members.
NASU members at the institution, DAILY POST recalls, had last Wednesday,declared an indefinite strike over the failure of the state government to offset their eight-month salary arrears.
NASU Chairman, The Polytechnic Ibadan chapter, Comrade Ibrahim Akande, who said that it was unfortunate that the government was dodging its responsibilities by reducing the monthly subventions of the six tertiary institutions owned by the state government, remarked that the reduction of the monthly subventions of the institution from 100 per cent to 25 per cent made it difficult for the institution to pay salaries of its workers between 2016 and now.
Akande added that the increment of the subvention from 25 per cent to 36 per cent in July this year has not changed the situation, saying that the management was still finding it difficult to pay salaries of the workers as at now.
While addressing journalists after a congress of the union which had in attendance, members of the national body of the union, Akande said, “It is unfortunate that the government is trying to dodge their responsibilities. Because in 2016, they reduced the subvention to the institution to 25 per cent. But, as I am talking to you now, the subvention has been increased to 36 per cent, but despite that, the management and the governing council are still finding it difficult to pay salaries not to talk of payment of outstanding arrears which is eight months.
“As at last week, the Commissioner for Education spoke on the media that the governing council and the management should look inward to offset the arrears. When there was a crisis, the government inaugurated the governing council but they were not given money to offset the arrears. We are saying that, we have worked and they should pay us. The government should pay us.
“They should not play politics with our lives. We are suffering, we can’t afford to finance our homes, our children are being sent out of school because we can’t afford to pay school fees. They need to pay us our salaries. The government should not come up with flimsy excuses that the governing council should pay us. If they want the governing council to pay us the arrears, they should give them the money.
“As I am speaking with you, what they owe us is close to one billion naira. The Polytechnic Ibadan is not a company they will be making millions of naira in a month. Imagine in Nigeria you are making 150 million naira per month, it is a big money. But, they are giving us 77 million naira per month as subvention. Our wage bill is 226 million naira. Deduct 77 million from 226, that means the management is augmenting the wage bill with about 150 million naira per month. And so, for the management, they have been paying our salaries from January till date. But, we are calling on the government to offset the eight-month arrears.
“The government should not play politics with our lives. Our people are suffering, our people are dying on daily basis because they can’t afford to have access to good health. Our people can’t afford to buy drugs, they can’t afford to pay school fess of our children. They can’t afford to even go and do test, so they should pay us the 8-month arrears.
“This is Ileya (Eld-Kabir) that is coming, they will love to go to the cooperatives for loans but there is no loan to give them. So it is somehow ridiculous for the Commissioner for education who is a professor that has been saying all these, playing with the lives of the students and workers in the education sector. You can now see how our education sector is throughout the state, we are not moving forward, we are moving backward. This is rather unfortunate.
“And we are trying to be patient enough because since Wednesday, we decided not to lock the gates in order not to cause civil disturbances, but, if they push us to the wall, we will shut down the whole institution and we are going to do whatever we fell is good for us. So, they should please pay us our salary arrears.”