The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), Rufus Giwa Polytechnic (RUGIPO), Owo chapter, has lamented the non inclusion of its members in the process of upgrading the institution to a University.
The ASUP members expressed their protest on Tuesday during a world press conference led by its Chairman, Ade Arikawe and General Secretary, Oluwadamilola Fapetu, to inform the public about the state of the institution.
Last month, the State Government led by Princess Oladunni Odu, Secretary to the Government, informed a stakeholder’s meeting, that included Chiefs of Isuada and Owo communities, as well as top management of RUGIPO, that Government has proposed that the Polytechnic will now be University of Ondo State, Owo.
The development according to Mr Arikawe, who read the text of the press conference is laudable, but that the process has not been transparent.
The union prayed the Government to ensure a seamless accommodation of staff of the Polytechnic into the University system.
“ASUP demands that its members (who are all qualified with most parading PhDs or in various stages of completing same) should necessarily migrate to the proposed University, while the fine details of such migration could be dealt with as necessary. This is the case with other Polytechnics or Colleges of Education in Nigeria that have been converted to University, and the Union will not accept anything short of this,” Arikawe said.
The world press conference also addressed the non payment of 11 months salary arrears by the State Government.
The union noted that the reduction in the subvention given to the institution, which started during the Mimiko’s Administration, but was further reduced by the Akeredolu’s Government, has been responsible for the staggered salary payment.
“At the twilight of his administration, Dr. Rahman Mimiko reduced the subvention to the Institution by twenty million naira (NGN20, 000, 000.00) and by the time Governor Rotimi Akeredolu assumed office, he worsened the cut in subvention by slashing the subvention to the Institution by 30% and that actually crippled the financial capacity of the Polytechnic.
“At a time, the Institution would have to combine subventions for two months before it could pay a month salary of its staff. The state of affairs in the Polytechnic therefore, has since, become parlous and dehumanizing. This callous immiseration of lecturers in the Institution has led to untimely deaths, avoidable ill-health, broken marriages, humiliation and all manner of unimaginable living conditions of lecturers in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo.”
The full text of address by the ASUP chairman is reproduced below:
SAVE OUR SOULS: AGONIES OF ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF POLYTECHNICS, RUGIPO CHAPTER, OWO (ASUP).
BEING TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE UNION ON TUESDAY, 12TH DECEMBER, 2023 ON AGONIES OF LECTURERS IN RUFUS GIWA POLYTECHNIC, OWO
All over the world, lecturers in tertiary institutions of learning are the indispensable hands that rock the cradle of modernity and accelerated development of the society, chiefly because of their role in creating and imparting knowledge that serves as catalysts for growth and development.
Owing to the need to preserve and promote knowledge, conducive environment becomes sine qua non, just as the welfare of this specialist teachers becomes intricately interwoven with societal growth and development.
As important as the role of lecturers are as adumbrated above, in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, the existential reality of lecturers is pathetic, miserable and agonising.
Gentlemen of the fourth estate of the realm, this press conference is therefore held to call attention to the pathetic, appalling and incredulous state of affairs in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo. Details of the pathetic situation are as highlighted hereunder:
2.0 UNENDING BACKLOG OF SALARY ARREARS
Workers generally offer their services in return for commensurate renumeration. This is the norm in all civilised societies.
As a matter of fact, Islam and Christianity, both officially recognised religions in Nigeria, separately in their scriptures, abhorred the oppression and immiseration of workers.
The Qur’an and the Bible clearly enjoined that the wages of workers should be paid before the evaporation of their sweat.
Unfortunately, in RUGIPO, not only had our sweat evaporated, life is ebbing out of our bodies, as we are being owed eleven months (11 months ) salary arrears. As at today, we have only received salary for February, and part-payment for March, 2023. Apparently, staff of the Institution will celebrate Christmas and New Year, 2024 in hunger!
This pathetic situation has been going on for the past seven years with no respite in sight. The state government has continually slashed the subvention to the school, and this has precipitated the culdesac the Institution found itself in.
At the twilight of his administration, Dr. Rahman Mimiko reduced the subvention to the Institution by twenty million naira (NGN20, 000, 000.00) and by the time Governor Rotimi Akeredolu assumed office, he worsened the cut in subvention by slashing the subvention to the Institution by 30% and that actually crippled the financial capacity of the Polytechnic. At a time, the Institution would have to combine subventions for two months before it could pay a month salary of its staff. The state of affairs in the Polytechnic therefore, has since, become parlous and dehumanizing.
This callous immiseration of lecturers in the Institution has led to untimely deaths, avoidable ill-health, broken marriages, humiliation and all manner of unimaginable living conditions of lecturers in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo.
3.0 FRACTIONAL PAYMENT OF SALARY
Closely related to the aforestated is the penchant of the leadership (Management and Council) of the Institution for fractional payment of salary. It is sad that lecturers are being treated like beggars over their entitlements. Sometimes, the fractional payment for a whole month could be as ridiculous as 10% of their salary. Can you beat that!
Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when the state government has been trumpeting the news of successfully clearing the backlog of salary owed workers, in addition to a halt in fractional payment of salary to workers in the state.
Why the fate of RUGIPO lecturers is different is difficult to understand.
4.0 UNPAID FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF PROMOTION FROM 2015 TILL DATE
Equally worrisome is the refusal of the leadership of the Institution to pay the financial benefits of promotion of staff since 2015 till date.
The Institution had introduced the policy of ‘notional promotion’ to deprive staff of their entitlements. Notional promotion in reality, means that lecturers duely qualified and promoted will remain stagnant in their pay, the change in status notwithstanding.
This obnoxious policy cannot but kill morale and by extension productivity of affected workers.
5.0 HUGE DEFICIT IN INFRASTRUCTURE, EQUIPMENT AND TEACHING AIDS
The Polytechnic as it were, suffers huge deficits in infrastructure, equipment and teaching aids. There are no enough lecture theatres, offices, equipment and other teaching aids.
Many lecturers in the Institution have no offices, and those that managed to have only have empty offices with no furniture to sit on or work with.
This lamentable situation also applies to the laboratories that are mostly bereft of equipment and chemicals necessary for teaching and research
The situation is so appalling to the extent that the Polytechnic had to borrow some of the equipment and machines used for the last accreditation exercise in the Institution.
6.0 CONVERSION OF RUGIPO TO UNIVERSITY
Recently, we heard that the government intends to convert the Polytechnic to a University. As far as we are concerned, such initiative is a laudable development
However, it is sad to note that, despite the fact that ASUP is a critical stakeholder in the Polytechnic, it is neither involved nor carried along in the whole process so far. We believe this is an egregious oversight that should be corrected forthwith
As it is, the Union is averse to any plan, however conceived, that will not put into consideration the interests of academics staff members in the Institution.
Because the proposed University will not be starting on a tabula rasa, rather it will inherit the infrastructure, location, goodwill of the community and other resources of the predecessor institution (RUGIPO), ASUP demands that its members ( who are all qualified with most parading PhDs or in various stages of completing same) should necessarily migrate to the proposed University, while the fine details of such migration could be dealt with as necessary.
This is the case with other Polytechnics or Colleges of Education in Nigeria that have been converted to University, and the Union will not accept anything short of this.
6.1 APPOINTMENT OF PRINCIPAL OFFICERS FOR THE POLYTECHNIC
As a corollary to the above, we wonder if there is any need to place advert for the appointment of substantive Principal Officers for the Polytechnic in view of its proposed conversion to University.
Such efforts appear needless, wasteful, time consuming and diversionary.
ASUP appreciates the Visitor to the Polytechnic, His Excellency, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, Governor of Ondo State, for reinstating the erstwhile Chairman of our Union, Comr. Ijawoye Rafiu, who was sacked by forces of atavism for fighting for the rights of workers in the Polytechnic. Thank you Mr. Governor, and we sincerely wish you speedy recovery so as to continue the good works you are doing in the state
Gentlemen of the press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, ASUP is calling on the Ondo State government, all stakeholders in the state, well-meaning people of the state, and all human beings on the surface of earth to come to the rescue of Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo.
The true situation of the Institution is better imagined than experienced. A 21st century society should not treat its knowledge workers the way lecturers are being treated cruelly in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo
And at this juncture, we assert vehemently that enough is clearly enough. The oppression, suppression, subjugation, intimidation, humiliation, enslavement, insensitivity and sheer cruelty against lecturers and all workers in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo must stop!
Thank you all for coming.
Arikawe S. Ade, Chairman, ASUP
Fapetu Oluwadamilola V., General Secretary, ASUP