The Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu was established in 1978 as a social service provider by Ogun State Government. It is the premier tertiary institution in Ogun State with the mandate of producing teachers for primary and secondary schools in Ogun State and other states in Nigeria.
The College, as a result of the dexterity and professionalism displayed in the discharge of its mandates was granted approval by the National Universities Commission to award Bachelor degrees in Education in affiliation with the University of Ibadan with effect from year 1998. The College was subsequently upgraded to a University of Education in year 2005, the first of its kind in Nigeria. With this development, the University was awarding Bachelor degrees in Education and Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) on the same campus.
In October, 2008, the Management of the University, for the reasons best known to them, relocated 474 staff of the University to the College at Omu-Ijebu (contrary to their wish) through a letter titled ‘Letter of Disarticulation’.
It is pertinent to state that the 474 staff that were disarticulated to Omu-Ijebu were mostly the pioneer staff that nurtured the College to an enviable height that propelled the State Government to upgrade the institution to a University, only for the Management of the University then, to replace the ‘disarticulated’ staff with over 500 newly recruited staff who are now enjoying the dint of hard labour and sweat of the pioneering staff.
Barely one year after the relocation of the College to Omu-Ijebu from its comfort zone to an uncomfortable remote location in Omu-Ijebu characterized by infrastructural deficit, the crisis of irregularity in the payment of salary started at the College. By the end of December, 2009, College staff were owed three months salaries while our counterparts at the University, Ijagun (most of whom knew nothing about the transformation of the College to a University) were smiling home with their salaries.
As at April, 2011, the outstanding salaries owed staff of the College stood at 81/2 months (see Table 1 for the detail financial implication of same).
With the sufferings and hardships experienced by staff during this period, coupled with the window of opportunity opened for change in Ogun State and Nigeria as spearheaded by All Progressive Congress, the College Staff, Ogun State people and Nigerians in general overwhelmingly voted for change, which ushered in Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the Governor of Ogun State and President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo as President and Vice-President respectively.
The Current Situation of Staff Welfare in the College
With the wind of change, the entire staff of the College were happy for positive things to come in respect of outstanding salaries and arrears owed staff by the immediate past administration. However, the hopes were dashed. The State Government, under the leadership of the current governor commenced the payment of salary to the College in May, 2011 with half salary which was repeated for three months (May, June and July, 2017), the balance of which has not been paid as at the time of compiling this appeal (see Table 2).
Your Excellency Sir, as if that was not enough, the staff were further subjected to frustration and untold hardship by the government due to non-payment of salary for fourteen (14) consecutive months (April, May and June, 2015; September, October, November and December, 2015; January, February, March, April, May, June, July and August, 2016) (see table 3).
After much persuasion and appeals to the government vis-à-vis the appointment of a new Provost for the College, the state government resumed the payment of ½ salary with effect from August, 2016 to July, 2017 (Payment of ½ salary for 12 calendar months). Between August, 2017 to the time of writing this report, the percentage of monthly salary paid to workers in the College was increased to 60% (September, 2017 to September, 2018) (see Table 4).
Your Excellency Sir, in July 2012, a new salary structure which was approved in 2009 for Colleges of Education was implemented in the College with the outstanding arrears of same being 48 months. The state government is yet to look into the payment of these backlog despite series of appeal) (see Table 5).
Sir, the detailed analysis of the financial implication of the unpaid salaries and arrears on monthly basis is stated hereunder:
Current Implication of the Outstanding Salaries
Sir, permit us to state without equivocation that the non-payment of staff salaries and arrears for several months has taken its toll on staff of the College. Some of these are hereby stated:
(i) Untimely Death of Staff: Between May, 2011 and October 2018, the College has lost ….. staff. Some of these staff died because of little medical expenses that could not be paid at hospital. Several other staff had been subjected to the nursing of terminal ailments occasioned by the psychological effect of non-payment of salary. It is more devastating to note that we have husband and wife working together in the College and are being subjected to this high level of dehumanization.
(ii)Broken Homes: Many families had been put in disarray over non-payment of salary as they cannot meet up with their social and financial obligations to their family. Many of our staff had been ejected by their landlords over their inability to pay house rent while staff with children in secondary schools and University had withdrawn their children due to dearth of fund.
(iii) Emotional Trauma/Distress: The cumulative effect of (ii) above had subjected many staff to emotional distress as they have been so dehumanized beyond description.
(iv) Abandonment of Academic/Professional Programmes: Both teaching and non-teaching staff are adversely affected with the non-payment of staff salary. Most of the teaching and non-teaching staff on self-sponsored academic programmes had withdrawn due to paucity of fund while the non-teaching staff cannot register with professional bodies or pay annual subscription/dues to professional bodies they registered with.
(v) Stagnation of Staff: Your Excellency sir, staff of the College has remained stagnant on a grade level for many years. The last time promotion exercise was carried out was in year 2011. For seven years running, there is no promotion for staff and this has implication on staff morale.
Government Disposition to these Arrears
Your Excellency sir, the disposition of the state government to these outstanding salaries and arrears has been lukewarm in nature as the government kept on saying at every opportunity that the staff was not owed any salary. The only mouth piece through which the staff would have made its case known to the outside world (Staff Unions) has been proscribed by the State Government using executive fiat.
Reasons for Urgent Intervention
Aside from the need to put an end to (i) to (v) above, there is need to emphasize that:
(1)Tai Solarin College of Education is a teacher training institution which provide social service to the populace and as such, cannot unilaterally charge higher fees like other tertiary institutions.
(2)College of Education is the last option for many students aspiring for higher education in Nigeria and this accounted for the dwindling enrolment in nearly all Colleges of Education in Nigeria (except those running degree programmes in affiliation to a University). Our College is no exception and this has drastically reduced the College internally generated revenue (IGR). Therefore, the position of the State government that the College should look inward (IGR) to pay staff salary cannot hold. In addition, the government in self-denial continued to place staff salaries under ‘subvention’ which in itself is an aberration.
(3)Majority of staff disarticulated from the University to the College are high ranking officers and this has made the staff salary pyramid to be top heavy. This is not the making of the staff but that of the Management of the University (TASUED) that ejected them forcefully to Omu after developing the University. The denial of these staff of their entitlement is tantamount to injustice.
Sir, permit me to state that these facts can be verified from the College if the authenticity/genuineness of same becomes imperative.
We are aware of your antecedent as an academic, one time Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State, an illustrious son of Ogun State, a respected and preferred man of God and currently the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we are confident that you will not allow our sweat to go down the drain. Your name will not only be written in Gold but would have also created an indelible mark in our hearts if you can compassionately intervene in our case by appealing to the State government under the leadership of Senator Ibikunle Amosun to:
(i)restore our salary to 100% with effect from October, 2018;
(ii)pay all outstanding salary and arrears (especially from the last tranche of the bail-out fund since the College never benefited from the payment of previous tranches); and
(iii)constitute and inaugurate a Governing Council for the College since none has been put in place from the point of relocation of the College to Omu-Ijebu in October, 2008.
Finally, we should put on record that the dedicated staff of the College have refused to down-tool while suffering in silence because it is suspected that the State Government may seize this an excuse to permanently shut-down the College.
Kindly note Sir, that further fear by staff will not allow names to be mentioned; therefore, we plead that this appeal should not be treated as being concocted by a group of faceless people. Our intention is not to run down the Ogun State Government but to BEG for fair and humane treatment by the payment of our legitimate salaries and emoluments.
While wishing you success in the forth-coming general elections in year 2019, your intervention in our pathetic situation shall be appreciated Sir.
Long Live TASCE, OMU-Ijebu,
Long Live Ogun State,
Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you Sir.
Concerned staff of the College