*say no regret backing Gov
By; BILIQIS OLAJUMOKE ONAOLAPO, Ilorin
Teachers across Kwara State Colleges of Education have said that their welfare has improved tremendously under Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, adding that they are proud of their decision to support him in 2019.
Speaking during a ‘thank you’ visit to the Governor at the weekend, the Joint Academic Staff Union in Tertiary Institutions (JASUTI) commended the administration for implementing the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Salary Structure (CONPCASS), which had been pending for several years.
“Your Excellency, you are a man of your words. We are indeed very happy for (your) approving the CONPCASS that is due for Academic Staff of the Colleges of Education Ilorin, Oro Lafiagi and College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies (CAILS),” State Chairman of JASUTI Bilikis Olasehinde said during the visit.
“On behalf of the academic staff of tertiary institutions in Kwara State under my leadership, we say thank you sir.
“Your Excellency, we are here to show our appreciation for everything you have done for us. Sir, let me go back memory lane. When you came in as governor of Kwara, there were issues in the state’s tertiary institutions. We had issues of salary arrears and we were on strike. Immediately you came in, we said we should suspend the strike on our own and give the new government the benefit of doubt. We thank God that we did that because within 24 hours we met His Excellency you did what you promised. We appreciate you for that.”
Olasehinde also praised the administration for restoring monthly subventions to the institutions, saying members of JASUTI now receive full salaries every month with the development.
“On the issue of our subvention, His Excellency said going forward, we would be getting our full salaries and that era of percentages is over. This is a reality today. The subvention is released to all our tertiary institutions as and when due,” she said.
“Also, we had issue of accreditations across our tertiary institutions and we met His Excellency. He promised us again and did what he promised. We really appreciate that.”
The JASUTI leadership was accompanied during the visit by State chairman of NLC Comrade Isa Ore; TUC chairman Comrade Babatunde Joseph; Public Service Joint Negotiating Council Comrade Saliu Suleiman; and the State Controller of Labour Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment Alhaji Yusuf Raufu.
At the session were the Commissioner for Tertiary Education Dr. Afeez Abolore and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Labour Comrade Abdulkareem Onagun.
Governor AbdulRazaq, for his part, explained how his administration saved the state’s tertiary institutions from collapse for lack of support, saying the previous government totally neglected the schools.
“The previous government totally neglected the schools; they were not paying salaries, let alone fixing the infrastructure. They did not care about that. The first institution I visited was Kwara State College of Education (Technical) Lafiagi and I was totally disappointed….The state government abandoned its responsibilities over the years,” AbdulRazaq said.
“We are glad to have met your demands. While we will be glad to do more, it is glaring to everyone that we are coming from a terrible era that no one should ever wish for again.
“The last administration could not even pay when it was N18,000 minimum wage. Now, we have moved up to N30,000 minimum wage. We even made sure that when you were making your demands your salaries were being paid.”
AbdulRazaq said his administration is determined to restore Kwara’s lost glory in education with right investments in infrastructure, staff welfare and other support schemes.
“Kwara State was formed the same time with Lagos and some others. Today, Lagos has three state universities because they managed themselves very well. They are on upper trajectory and we were just sinking. We thank God and the people that allowed us to stop the rots. We have stopped it and we are turning things around for good. We will make sure the right thing is done. We have also not increased the school fees since we came in. We have frozen it and that means we are practically giving students discount despite the inflationary trends.
We have also restored subvention to our colleges,” he added.
“Since we have put the issues of subvention and minimum wage behind us, our next step is to see how to upgrade facilities in our institutions. We’ll also look into how you will expand departments, schools and facilities. Bye and large, we should put hands together and do the right things to make our education robust and place it where it should be. Kwara used to lead education in the north before. We went down but we are on our way back up and In Shaa Allaah (God willing) we will get to the top again.”