A COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE 37TH NATIONAL DELEGATES CONFERENCE (NDC) OF SENIOR STAFF UNION IN COLLEGES OF EDUCATION, NIGERIA (SSUCOEN) HELD IN ALVAN IKOKU FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION (A.I.F.C.E), OWERRI, IMO STATE, FROM 29TH OCTOBER – 3RD NOVEMBER, 2023
Preamble: At the close of the 37th National Delegates Conference (NDC) of Senior Staff Union in Colleges of Education, Nigeria (SSUCOEN), held at Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education (A.I.F.C.E), Owerri, Imo State where delegates from 61 Chapters of Colleges of Education in Nigeria attended, having deliberated on wide range of topical national issues and other matters affecting the Education Sector, particularly the Colleges of Education Sub-sector, issued the following declarations:
Felicitation With The President: His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR)
The Conference felicitates with Mr. President, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) on his electoral victory at the Apex court which affirmed his election victory during the 2023 Presidential Election. The Union called on other contestants and political parties to accept the verdict of the Apex Court, while calling on Mr. President to be magnanimous in victory by forming a government of national unity as all hands must be on deck to stir the nation out of the turbulent waters. Further to that, Mr. President is enjoined to ensure speedy delivery of his “Renewed Hope Agenda” to better the lives of average Nigerians, with a view to addressing twin problems of insecurity and hardships metted on Nigerians.
Amendment of the Act Establishing Federal Colleges Education
The Conference commends Mr. President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR), for assenting to the Act establishing Federal Colleges of Education, which has since been gazetted and, urge relevant authorities to ensure speedy implementation in order to realize the noble objectives therein. In addition, in order to achieve the benefits across the Colleges, State Governments are encouraged to domesticate the new Act or review their edicts for the sake of uniformity and maintenance of industrial harmony and development of Teacher Education across the country.
The Conference appreciates Almighty God for granting all Delegates journey mercies to the Conference and prayed that they will all return to their respective destinations safely. Also, appreciates the Provost, Management, Staff and Students of the host College, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education (A.I.F.C.E), Owerri, Imo State, for providing the enabling environment for the hosting of the 37th National Delegates Conference (NDC). Same goes to the SSUCOEN Chapter Chairman, Executive and Congress Men and Women of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education (A.I.F.C.E), Owerri, Imo State, for their uncommon hospitality.
Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund)
The Conference heartily appreciates Arch. Sonny S.T. Echono, the Executive Secretary, Board and Management of Tertiary Education Fund (TETFund) for the recently organized Stakeholders’ interactive workshop where Union leaders of all beneficiary institutions were invited for a one-day intensive interactive session with a view to identifying grey areas and gaps, for possible mitigation. It is hoped that the outcome of the revolutions reached, will be implemented, as it will go a long way in further repositioning Tertiary Education within the shortest time.
Considering the attendant heights of insecurity bedeviling the nation, the Conference passionately appealed to governments at all levels to redouble efforts and be more proactive and decisive in ensuring lives and properties of Nigerians are adequately secured. The Conference equally called on governments to ensure the release of all hostages still been held captive by criminals especially students of Federal University Gusau, as the development is capable of discouraging students enrolment and generating mass apathy towards Education.
Abduction of NLC President in Imo State
Delegates in session condemned in totality the recent abduction and brutalization of President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero along with other innocent labour leaders who participated in what was supposed to be a peaceful workers’ rally in Imo State. Such acts of violence and intimidation against individuals exercising their right to peaceful protest are unacceptable and a complete violation of fundamental human rights. Delegates therefore called on the Inspector General of Police to immediately arrest and prosecute the perpetrators involved in this dastardly act and, Mr. President is enjoined to call the Imo State Government to order and ensure total and comprehensive medical treatment of the President of NLC.
Disposition of State Governments to Education And Workers Welfare
The Conference observed with great dismay, the indifferent disposition of some State Governments to dilapidated infrastructures in their schools, particularly, Colleges of Education sub-sector. Therefore, State governments are enjoined to improve on annual budgetary allocations to Education and its appropriate implementation to mitigate the menace as Education cannot be toyed with. In a related development, the salaries and welfare of workers in the sector must be considered as a priority and necessity, and not just a privilege.
Implementation of 65 Years Retirement age by State Governments
The Conference considered it as unacceptable, the non domestication and implementation of 65 years retirement age for staff of Colleges of Education by some State Governors despite the repeated calls by stakeholders, for that to be done. The Conference therefore appealed to State Governors who are yet to implement the 65 years retirement age in their State Colleges to do so for the non teaching staff, without further delay in the interest of the system and maintenance of industrial peace and harmony. On the same note, the Conference appreciated all the State Governors who have already implemented it.
Decline In Country’s Infrastructural Development
The Conference lamented the state of gross infrastructural decay bedeviling the country, especially deplorable condition of road network which are now nothing less than death traps. This development has made road transport a nightmare and a risky venture. The Union therefore called on government at all levels to declare state of emergency on road construction and reconstruction as a matter of urgency to arrest this ugly situation.
Unprecedented lost of the value of Naira and unabated inflationary rate
Considering the unprecedented dwindling strength and purchasing value of Naira against other world currencies, especially the Dollar and complete loss of purchasing power of the nations’ currency, the Conference expressed serious concerns about the fact that workers cannot afford basic household items such as rice, sugar, cooking oil to mention but few. On the other hand, inflation has skyrocketed and eroded the minimum wage, which has brought untold hardship on average Nigerian workers. Government at all levels are therefore encouraged to be more dedicated to economic recovery, while in the mean time, efforts be doubled on palliatives to ease the burden on Nigerians.
Delay in remittance of 3rd party deductions by IPPIS
The Conference noted with great dismay the continued failures and prolonged delay by Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) to promptly remit third party deductions to the beneficiary accounts despite all complaints and agitations by unions. The Union had expected that IPPIS ought to have mastered and overcome these challenges, unfortunately there is no sign of improvement. The Conference, therefore wished to call on the Federal Government to take decisive action on the situation before it results to industrial dispute.
N35,000 Wage Award and 25% upward review of Salary for Tertiary Education Institutions
While the Conference applauded Federal Government for the commencement of payment of N35,000.00 Wage Award (though without arrears of the previous month as agreed with labour), it however expressed utmost disappointment for the non implementation of the 25% upward review of salaries of workers in Tertiary Education institutions, including Colleges of Education despite being captured in the 2023 appropriation Act. Consequently, the Conference called on:
(a) Federal Government to ensure immediate implementation and payment of the accrued arrears.
(b) State Governments to do same. In the case of Kwara, Kogi and other State Governments who have not reviewed workers salaries or gave parliatives to our members, are being called upon to, not only do so immediately but also ensure payment of palliatives while the process of salaries review is being concluded.
Revitalization of Public Colleges of Education
The Conference expressly applauded the Federal Government for the release of first tranche of the fifteen Billion Naira (₦15,000,000,000) Revitalization Fund to benefiting Public Colleges of Education. Furthermore, it passionately appealed for an expedited action towards the payment of the second tranche/reimbursement to Colleges who have been certified of judicious utilization of the first tranche, to be made in the interest of the country’s Teacher Education, as further delays will amount to erosion of the value of the money by the current inflation trends in the country.
Appointment Of Governing Council
Considering the importance of Governing Councils in the decision making processes of Colleges of Education, the Conference noted the continuous absence of Governing Council will have a devastating effect on staff welfare, especially approval and implementation of 2023 staff promotions. Consequently, the Union calls on Government, through the Hon Minister of Education, to immediately appoint Governing Councils in all Colleges without further delays.
Danladi Ali Msheliza, FCPM, FNLI, MNIM president
Comrade Nwenyi Leo Isioma National Secretary