The Oyo State Government has denied owing lecturers and other categories of staff in the six tertiary institutions owned by the state up to 15 months salaries.
It will be recalled that members of the academic and non-academic staff unions of the institutions on Friday threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the state government failed to pay their 15-month salary arrears within 14 days.
The unions jointly stated their position in a communiqué released at the end of the meeting of delegates from The Polytechnic, Ibadan; Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo; Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igbo-Ora; The Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa; The Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki; and Oyo State College of Education, Lanlate.
Reacting to the threat from the unions, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela, urged the workers to channel their agitation properly.
Stating that the state government would not succumb to any threat of an indefinite strike, he said, “The point is that when things are generalised, there is always a misconception. The position of the government is that education will be supported, including the welfare of the workers in all the tertiary institutions, but the era of wastage is over. We must know the financial positions of all the institutions and do what we must do as a government to block leakages.
“Let me state that when I saw the report, I also made some consultations. The state government has been regularly giving subvention to virtually all the seven institutions in the state. The complaint is that it is not sufficient. We are not claiming that it is sufficient, but we are saying that until we know exactly how much we need to put in we shall continue support them with that figure. When you give an ultimatum, it is just to show anger or something, but we, as government, believe in facts and figures.
“We have sent auditors to those institutions and they have given us some preliminary reports. We will get the comprehensive reports soon. As soon as we get them, in terms of facts and figures, we will do the needful as a government. We are appealing to the workers in the tertiary institutions and we ask that they give peace a chance. We don’t want the kind of crisis that rocked the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in the state. And as you can see that the LAUTECH issues have been resolved, all these other issues will also be resolved soon.”
Asked if the state government had not paid the staff of the institutions their salaries for 15 months, the commissioner said that it was false.
He said, “When they talk about 15-month salary arrears, I need to correct that impression. The government does not owe 15 months across the board. We are giving subventions on a monthly basis, which is 25 per cent of what it used to be. If we are going to add more to it, we will know, based on the fact that we have gathered some data from the management. We are also going to get more data from our own audit firm and then we will know what to add in supporting the schools,” he explained.