Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Lecturers of Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State, on Monday protested over six years unpaid allowances, warning the provost and management of the institution to stop intimidating their members over the development.
The chairman, FCET Umunze chapter of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Dr Churchill Okonkwo, led the protest.
It was reported that the lecturers had about a week ago declared a three-week warning strike against the management of the college, asking parents to withdraw their children and wards from the college in their own interests.
But the management of the college in a swift reaction refuted the COEASU’s strike, describing it as fake news, saying, “some online reports had quoted the Chairman, COEASU, FCET Umunze, Dr Churchill Okonkwo of asking parents to withdraw their children from the college because the lecturers in the institution had commenced 21 days warning strike.”
The College’s Provost, Dr Tessy Okoli, while warning the students not to be deceived by fake report of strike, which she said was intended to cause panic and incite students’ unrest, advised journalists to always verify their reports to avoid misleading the public, noting that any student that would absent themselves from school during the examination period would have themselves to blame.
But on Monday, COEASU insisted that lecturers of the college were on strike and warned the provost and management to stop intimidating them and deceiving the public with falsehoods.
The COEASU Chairman, Churchill Okonkwo said, “As a Union, we are all aware of the sacrifices we have made as a body to carry on with our tasks in the College despite the neglect of our welfare packages by the management who is currently so versed in the divide and rule antics instead of addressing the raised issues.
“We are also aware that if not for COEASU wielding in to source for N1m to sponsor Agajelu to Abuja to demand our welfare that Management didn’t care that we are owed the TETFUND intervention since 2016 neither were they sympathetic to the fact that Teaching Practice( TP) mobilisation hadn’t been paid since 2018 and same nonchalance has also attended our demands for degree honorarium.
“It means that our meagre salaries are tasked to pay for our transportation to supervise teaching practice exercise since 2016, whereas the management always collects their DTA every time they travel or leave the college environment for official duties.
“They always think that justice can be pushed aside with injustice and this is quite unfair. At our congress of Tuesday 23rd August 2022, the provost was given a fair chance to appeal to us and make promises that will postpone the strike but rather than do it she resorted to threat.
“Our college has been made a laughing stock to other colleges in terms of our staff welfare, environment and governance.
“We’re the dirtiest and most unkempt college in Nigeria with overgrown grasses everywhere. No clean sanitary facilities resulting in lecturers and students mostly relieving themselves in the highly overgrown grass belts.
“Before this new management, lecturers were assigned pens, files and markers but now we will spend our money to buy these. Before now, college generators power the entire school and departments but now every school and department must buy their generator and also fuel it to make outputs; before now, accreditation are fully sponsored by the College but last accreditation HODs and Deans were given paltry sums to run around for accreditation and most of them are still being owed what they spent. This is something that other Sister colleges do with ease and we ask; is our college created differently from other colleges in Nigeria?”
The union thus resolved “That any staff participating in any examination will be penalised the Union way; That COEASU executive will intensify monitoring exercises to ensure total compliance. That any staff that was harassed or intimidated by any management staff should quickly report to the executive.”
The lecturers warned the management against keeping the students perpetually in the college when no academic work was ongoing, describing such as punishment and disservice to the parents, adding: “They cannot continue to keep the students in the College with lies when such students are not kept busy with academic activities. Remember that idle mind is a devil’s workshop.”