By Bashir Bello – Kano
The Management of Federal College of Education, FCE (Technical) Bichi in Kano State has on Wednesday said they were on top of the situation to address issues raised by the College’s Academic Staff Union, COEASU, who had embarked on a one-week warning strike.
The Provost, Prof. Bashir Muhammad Fagge who stated this while addressing a press conference to react to the issues raised by the union, said it has put all mechanisms in place to address the issues.
Prof. Fagge said they were currently on a negotiation table with the union body to resolve the issues amicably.
Recalled that the union had embarked on a one-week strike over issues ranging from nonremittance of N25 million outstanding FCE (T) staff multipurpose cooperative society deductions, nonpayment of 10 months peculiar academic allowance, decay in academic infrastructures and environment, insecurity, and lawlessness on campus among others.
According to the Provost, “there is bound to be disagreement or skirmishes between the employer and employee because the relationship between the duo is usually characterized by these but it is always the issue of resolving the issue through dialogue.
“On the claims of falling standard of education in the institution, I want to vehemently disagree with them on that. When I joined as the Provost of the institution, there were only six lecturers with PhDs but today we have over 200. The same thing with the infrastructures. If you go round the school, no single building has not been renovated. And we have built a new permanent site with five new schools which will be commissioned soon. We have an e-library, laboratories, our lectures are prompt, we have increased the number of academic staffs from 250 to about 750. And students who graduated were trained with skill acquisition to the level that when they graduate they can employ themselves and needs not to go and seek for a job.
“Among the issue raised also is a cooperative society that the Management is owing to them N25 million. Between 2015 and 2016, there was an introduction of Tertiary Single Treasury Account, TSA, and the personnel cost of all Federal colleges was slashed down and all were paying incomplete salaries. But in this college, we paid a complete salary up until the end of the period. We have never experienced a salary shortfall. We (management) sat down with the union that deduction should not be remitted but the main salary be paid to staffs and when the salary shortfall is paid then we pay the deduction. The federal government later paid the shortfall but paid 50%. Any time the Federal government pays the remaining 50%, we will pay them. We are still awaiting the Federal government to pay the remaining 50%. They are supposed to be aware that the deduction was been held by the Federal government. And it has started paying.
“There is also the issue of security and cleaners. All security and cleaners were outsourced. Since 2004, the FG has not been giving money. So what the institution did was to use the internally generated revenue to settle them. Unfortunately, with the covid-19, the school was shut down and the shortfall accrual as it is that the students have not paid their school fees.
“On the issue of Teachers’ Registration Council, TRCN, there were issues concerning the payment. The students were supposed to pay for the TRCN. What the students pay for the registration is not enough. Therefore what the college decision was to use the overhead to settle the TRCN. Unfortunately with no revenues to pay the security and cleaners and other issues such as fuel, we use the overhead to pay and left with no money to pay the TRCN.
“But the college has put all the mechanisms in place to fully fund the TRCN and allow the students to obtain the TRCN certificates.
“Another issue is none payment of the allowance, peculiar academic allowance. It’s an allowance which the government is funding and there is already a negotiation going on between the Federal govt and the mother union. It cut across all the colleges in the country.
“In order to raise the monies to address the issues that we discussed during a meeting we had we set up a task force committee. Because we realized that as of last week over 1,300 students of the college have not paid their school fees as they were writing their exams. When we calculated it the overall was more than N70 million and the total amount of request by the union was N38 million. So if we are to get the student pay their school fees, we could be able to address all demands by the union.
“All issues raised by the union are been tackled by the management. And have no effect on the qualities of students from the institution. The institution is an exemplary institution as others look up to it.
“The issue of no work, no pay would be a last option if we exaust all option because we are on negotiation now since they didn’t embark on full blown strike,” Prof. Fagge however stated.