By Ngozi Nwankwo
The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, has faulted the decision of the Federal Government over the increase of 40% in the salary of civil servants, saying it promotes divide and rule.
COEASU expressed joy that
Civil Servants who are the drivers of government policies have been considered for salary increase, but it appalled at government’s decision to exclude some categories of workers including lecturers and other workers in the tertiary institutions even though the various unions in the sector have made several overtures to government on salary increase.
In a press statement issued by the union’s president, Dr. Smart Odunayo Olugbeko, COEASU said the present action is an attempt by the Federal Government to divide Nigerian workers and cause confusion within the system.
“The discriminatory increase is an attempt to promote divide and rule and make Nigerian workers unable to speak with one voice on the issues that affect their general welfare. Government, in granting the increase, explained that it was to enable civil servants cushion the effect of inflation and increase in the cost of living as if lecturers and other workers in the tertiary education sector are immune against inflation and geometrical rise in cost of living.
” It is disheartening to note that lecturers and other workers in Colleges of Education had their last increase in salary in 2010 which was 13 years ago. The implication is that what the lecturers were earning in 2010 is the same amount they still earn in 2023. There had been various efforts on the part of the Union to make government renegotiate the 2010 agreement that gave lecturers in Colleges of Education the current salary structure even though the agreement should have been renegotiated after three years.
Stated further, the union said, “The Federal government eventually acceded to the demand of the Union by inaugurating the FGN/COEASU Renegotiation Team in 2022 under the leadership of Professor Kabiru Ishyaku, a former Executive Secretary of National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE). The Union has reached understanding with the Federal Government Team on virtually all issues raised for renegotiation except salary increase which the Government Team claimed was still awaiting the response of government.
“It is unfortunate that Government at the various levels in Nigeria are treating the issue of salary increase as a privilege they give to workers at their whims and caprices. It is important to reiterate the fact that salary increase is not a privilege or favour from government. It is part of the rights workers enjoy and especially when such a salary structure is a product of an agreement that stipulates its expiry time; it is only by renegotiation that such salary should be increased.
“Salary increase for academic staff in tertiary institutions is not a donation from government. Rather it is a product of negotiation between government and the unions because of the peculiarity of the system in terms of job specifications that attract different allowances for different cadres of workers.”
The Union, therefore, called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency return to the renegotiation table to conclude the renegotiation which includes salary increase for academic staff in Colleges of Education.