By Monday EBALU, Benin City
Edo state government has reiterated that no workers in the state is owned salary, saying that December salary was paid before Christmas day.
Reacting to the coalitions of tertiary institutions workers who protested round some major streets in Benin demanding for their five months salaries owned them by the Edo State Government, the state commissioner for Education, Gideon Obakhan said the state government does not owe any of its works force, including workers of the state owned tertiary institutions.
Gideon Obakhan said yesterday while interacting with some journalists on the issues said Edo state government is the few state in Nigeria today that have been able to pay salaries.
“The issue with the coalition of tertiary institutions union is between them and their management. Every month the state government gives subvention to these institutions and they are expected to also generate revenue internally to be able to runs the schools.
“I think it is either misunderstandings of how these institutions are run on the part of the coalitions or people are just trying to be mischievous.
“It is untrue that the ministry have not wadded into the crisis between the union and their management. We have series of meetings in my office where they appeal for support and bailout and in December last year, close to the Christmas period, the governor, in order to reduce the pressure on the workers who were saying the schools have not paid them, approved a bailout for them which was paid to the institutions.
“I have received messages from these institutions that they have received same and have also paid their workers.
“Like I said earlier, their agitation could be due to the misunderstanding on how the processes works or people just want to be mischievous for political reasons.
“Says they (coalition) have raised several issues which are largely internal to them and we have sent messages to their management in that regards and awaits responses from them.
“I cannot rely on hear say or act based on what I heard from one party. When I get the responses from management of these institutions, I would decide on the next line of action to take.
According to the commissioner, “How the government operates is that we give subvention to these institutions on a monthly basis depending on their size to support the running of the institutions.”
“One thing I want to state here is that these schools are largely autonomous. For instance, AAU get a subvention of about N254 m, USEN get something of about N25m.
“What they are expected to do with the fund is to run the schools which involves the payment of salaries, provision of facilities, although they also get support from TETFUND. Government provide some counterpart funding to run this.
“These institutions are also to generate revenue internally through school fees, and other legal means. This is expected to be argument to the subvention in the running of the schools.
“Payment of salaries is solely their responsibility. They decide the number of lecturers and administrative staff they employ. The prudence of how these funds are expended rest with the management of these schools.
“We do not interfere in the management of these institutions. They decide whether properly staff or whether their internally generated revenue is sufficient to argument what they received as subvention from the government.
“If they decide today to reduce the staff strength to meet up with their financial requirement is entirely up to them. We do not interfere on how with how they pay but we support them through monthly subvention.
“So when this people come out to say government is owing them, it shows their lack of understanding of the processes or being sponsored by opposition.
“But I expect that haven being in the system for so long, they should know how these schools are run.”
Responding to the commissioner comments, the president of the coalitions of tertiary institutions said, “it is not true as I have said several times. We didn’t request for bail out but said they should pay us our salaries. They are owing the Colleges in the coalition between 3-5 months. We embarked on another street protest in December because the state government was still owing us and as I speak with you now, they are still owing us.
“The problem started about two years ago since we started our agitation. At a point they used the trust fund or corporative to pay us. After the first tranches of about N89 million naira they paid in 2014 to bail the school out of the crisis, and they set up an investigative panel and after that it never came out with any other payment. The government is owing us and we are embarrassed.”