The Conflict in TASCE Omu – It’s about Justice Not Money!

THE CONFLICT IN TAI SOLARIN COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OMU – MORE THAN JUST MONEY
Over the last four years, the plight of workers who were fraudulently sequestered from the place they were employed to work has lingered. People may sum up the struggle there as money-related. Whereas this may not be a completely erroneous statement, it completely overshadows the real reason these people are breaking out after four years of enduring their concentration camp.
While I do not intend to waste precious time arguing issues or belabouring what has been extensively agitated, it would be important to recaps some of those for the purpose of avoiding contradictions and for those who may be reading of this matter for the first time. Some details are sacrosanct.
– That 474 staff of the Tai Solarin University of Education Ijagun were moved from their place of employment and a place they laboured to build and dumped in a rural community called Omu which was neither ready as a people to host them nor were there facilities to host the nearly 3,000 that were dislodged in the middle of the school year.
– That these people were moved on certain grounds which have been found to be false and deliberately engineered by some players in the school system and the political machinery that held sway at the time.
– That contrary to the claims of being overstaffed at the time of what was mischievously called ‘disarticulation’, the university went ahead to employ another 400 staff to replace the ones they dislodged.
– That there was no pattern for the selection of who went to Omu and who remained in Ijagun other than the evaluation of their blind loyalty.
– That huge sums of money were owed the dislodged workers. The university issued a dud cheque and nothing has happened since then.
– That the action of moving the school to the middle of nowhere has grossly devastated the school, killed the morale of the staff and reduced the enrolment in the school.
– That all the revenue generating machinery owned by the College of Education was fraudulently taken away up to the point that the University still issues certificates for programmes done prior to the promulgation of the decree establishing the university.
– That improvements in salary structures that were implemented everywhere else were never effected in the college thus opening a chasm between what people in other tertiary institutions earned and what obtained in the college.
– That the minimum wage which is a law in Nigeria was denied the workers in the college without explanation or apology.
– That in spite of this refusal to improve or align the salary structure, the meagre salary due to the workers was owed until it accumulated to 9 and half months with about 40 months of arrears.
– That the school still does not have a governing council. It has not had one in the four years in the jungle. There has not been a convocation ceremony since moving there.
– That the government feels that the school should be self-sustaining in their era of free education after stripping the school of its assets and ability to attract student and while reviewing downward the school fees payable(by a few naira).
In spite of this disgusting scenario, the workers continued to work. A strike that was ongoing at the advent of the new government was called off to give the government time to settle down and attend to its campaign promises. It is now 14 months down the line and THERE IS NO PLAN IN PLACE to address these issues and no one wishes to say anything about it.
Now, was the union quiet about it? No. 29 times they met with the commissioner and the matter never even left his office. Series of stories were told. A panel came while the government was awaiting swearing in. Another came after the government came into power. They said they were going to make budgetary allocations. We waited for both white paper and allocation. They said budget comes into force in April but this is September and nothing has been heard of the money allocated for this purpose as supposedly captured in the budget.
So, what caused the eruption? It was becoming quite apparent to everyone that the measured calmness in Omu was seen as a sign of satisfaction. The unwillingness to embarrass the government by the workers there was counted for cowardice. The love between the provost and the staff was misread as control. Within the space of one week, three things happened.
i. The governor was quoted (and some of his team too) as saying that he owed no one any money. August salary was, and is still outstanding not to add the 9 and half months of outstanding actual salaries and 40 months of arrears.
ii. The members of staff in Tai Solarin University of Education Ijagun were paid three months of arrears OF THE NEW MINIMUM WAGE which is yet to be implemented in the College of Education even now.
iii. The Commissioner for Education sent a team of ministry officials to come to review the demands of the union. They were treated very well and asked to be allowed three months to look into the matter. On second examination, they were said to have come from JUST ONE OFFICE In Abeokuta and were only sent to buy time.
People began to wonder what the 14 months of diplomacy with this administration was achieving if they were still hearing the cases. The documents had been sent to them over and over, not counting the countless meetings that had held. For the first time, this combination of events made it clear to even the most passive among the staff that it had been deception from the first instance.
This is why the place exploded and the staff went from being very nice to being very wise. They told the provost that he was their friend but in this matter, he needed to take his management team closer to Abeokuta rather than remaining in Omu and supervising the rape of trusting hardworking people. It remains true that if the provost and his management team enter the school today, no one would think of harassing them. But the workers feel there is nothing to achieve by sitting in Omu when they could spend the time discussing with the Chairman-in-Counsel, the Commissioner of Education; who is by the way a lawyer and therefore should understand the implication of allowing some to receive the minimum wage and others to be denied.
It is true that the Provost and the Registrar were denied access to their offices. It is also true that the tyres of the official vehicles in the school were deflated. It is true that workers went to Abeokuta where the Secretary to the State Government assured that he was unaware that the minimum wage was not being paid. He also said it was criminal not to do so because it is a law in Nigeria (he too is a lawyer). He is said to have assured that the minimum wage would commence in September while consultations would work out how to clear the arrears. It is true also that while all this was happening, the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Education told the workers in a phone interview that there was no money.
The SSA said that there was no money and that the Governor had told them he would not borrow to pay anyone. He also said he could not beg anyone and that the workers must obey the directive to re-open the offices of the principal officers or face the consequences. He said he had been receiving only a third of his salary which is said to be just over N300,000.00 (which puts his monthly pay at close to a million naira every month). ALL THIS IS CAPTURED ON TAPE.
It was only after this that the sealing of the offices of the Provost and the Registrar was reinforced halfway with blocks. Meanwhile, COEASU the academic union in the school though giving notice of a strike, has refused to call lecturers out of the classroom. Lectures are on. The admission office is open and so are all offices. Even the offices of the unions that are protesting the neglect are open and fully functional. They have said they will continue to perform their functions but will attend no meetings with management and will conduct no examinations.
This is how far money goes and this is also how far agitations go. The rest is about one human to another. How does it feel to be a pawn? We have here a people who have been denounced, decimated by neglect, death and disease to which they have no answers for lack of funds. Here are a people who have been systematically impoverished and whose value has been deliberately played down or fully denied. The tag ‘Omu’ has become a metaphor for inferiority which is the reason people claim not to know of the existence of the place. During an excursion to OGTV recently, we are told that the Managing Director asked if there is a school at Omu. The constant ‘start from the beginning’ that the government official resort to makes one wonder why the conspiracy is rofe and why they all claim not to know anything. A number of staff have died and some have become very ill. All of these were accentuated by the sheer frustration of having people deliberately deny other people what they are entitled to. So here are a people lied to, lied about and lied against. All they are asking for is not money but justice.
The government past lied to make the school come to Omu. They lied to keep the people hoping that something will make sense. They lied to them to make them believe that something was being done. When the new administration was campaigning, they lied to them that they would address the injustice and now they lie that they are unaware of it. Last week they lied that there is no money and the governor would not borrow to right and injustice of which he is gradually becoming a perpetrator.
They lied against these people telling the world they were moved to Omu because they were sub-standard. The erstwhile pro-chancellor told a convocation ceremony gathering that people who have refused to get Ph. Ds have been moved to Omu. There is no lie whiter than this. For years, they have lived under several lies told about them. The newest being that the government has paid all they are owing anyone. How does this become true in the light of the SSAs statement that the government will not borrow to pay anyone. Why do they have to pay if they have already paid as they claim? More lies have been told than we know including that they are supporters of Otunba Gbenga Daniel and they are an extension of the Omu people who are Daniel’s mother’s people.
The real issue is justice. All it takes to resolve this is to agree to pay the workers what they are legitimately entitled to as minimum wage beginning from now. The issue of the outstanding can and must be worked out. This is what has been done by this government in other schools. Some have said it is IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) but even IGR is government money and no one will pay a salary structure that is not approved by the government. The government cannot deny TASCE workers minimum wage which is law and allow it in TASUED and MAPOLY or anywhere else in the state for that matter and then come out and say they are not owing anyone. The threat of sacking workers does not scare anyone because this has been 4 years of torture. Ordinarily you can threaten a worker that he will not be paid if he misbehaved. But when the worker is not even getting paid for behaving well, what use if the threat?
By the way, how can you…how do you dare threaten people who have been through this horrific experience already? This is about justice, not about money. All we ask is not to be anybody’s pawn anymore. All we ask is justice. Action Congress of Nigeria, can you do justice? Prove it.

Advertisements

8 Comments

  1. Fasina Dare said,

    Dis is really serious! From time immemorial Nigerian politicians have been liars. When dis administration was coming on board,I forsaw its disappointment of people’s desire. So,I’m not fazed. Nigerian government have made it unequivocal that d language they understand is total strike. The unions should exploit dis means as the final step. NLC & TUC @ d national level should be drafted into dis. May God continue to help u people. Aluta continua,Victoria ascerta.

  2. Lukman Olusesi said,

    The first tertiary institution in the state has now become a pawn in the hands of fraudulent politicians. Our plea is that nobody should come to tasce with empty hands. All the staff wanna hear is implementation of minimum wage, restoration of assets, institution of governing council, and documented plans on how arrears will be settled.

  3. Adebiyi-Omotola Funmilayo A said,

    TASCE SAGA!!!

  4. tunde adeneye said,

    chuma,u captured it all.d guv,his lieutenant and d public shd be able to read this and react.

  5. Ololade osoba said,

    If dis is wat acn stands for, time will tell. They are writing their cv. 48months minus 15 months! Dey will come around calling 4 2nd term, i trust tasce staff wont 4get dis horror in time,

  6. femi said,

    mehn, dis is nonsense, how would u denied a workers 9month salaries nd again claiming u ar not owing dem ACN dis is injustice and he should not be condole.

  7. TOBA said,

    ALL POLITICIANS ARE THE SAME. LIES AND DECEIT UNLIMITED. AT OOUTH THE STORY IS SIMILAR- SALARY IS REGULARLY IRREGULAR NOW WITH UNPAID ARREARS AND DECAYED INFRASTRUCTURE.

  8. Dr Olusesi said,

    Well. This is the tall and short of what Omu has been all about. The implosion or explosion of tasce Omu is only about 4 months away. By July ending, all that was said and done will be said and done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: