…As 500 N-power volunteers, resign in Zamfara***
The Rector of the Federal Polytechnic at Ekowe in Bayelsa, Dr Seiyaboh Idah, has appealed to workers in the polytechnic to call-off their indefinite strike in the interest of students.
Idah made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
On July 8, three unions in the institution embarked on an indefinite strike over what they described as shortfalls in workers’ salaries, dating back to 2015.
Idah told the striking workers that returning to work would go a long way in resolving the issues in dispute, saying that the major cause of the salary shortfall was “due to a drop in personnel appropriations.
“I assumed office in August 2016. When I came in one of the challenges I inherited was this salary shortfall. I took up the challenge and began to work on it.
“This issue of shortfall was there, before I assumed office.
“In 2015, our personnel appropriation was N915, 266, 508. For 2016, the appropriation dropped to N855, 775,185 and that happened before I came in August of that year.
“We made several presentations, made several visits to those that are concerned, including the ministries of education, budget and finance, among others.”
According to Idah, the school normally submits a budget proposal and it goes to the National Assembly.
“But most times, appropriation is not exactly what you proposed.
“In 2016, when I assumed office, we were receiving 60 per cent of our salaries.
“However, in 2018 the appropriation rose to N1, 056, 732, 309 and the percentage of our salaries also increased to over 80 per cent.
“This is something we should commend the Federal Government for.
“But workers have gone on strike and all activities shutdown. I am appealing to them to suspend the strike for negotiations to be concluded,’’ the rector stated.
However, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of the Polytechnic, Mr Charles Amgbari, vowed that unions in the institution would not call-off the strike, unless the salary shortfall was rectified.
“The management of the polytechnic has had series of meetings with our unions but we are not going back,” said Amgbari.
In the meantime, about 500 N-Power volunteers in Zamfara have opted out of the programme after securing permanent employment, Executive Secretary, Social Investment Programme in the state, Kabiru Umar, has said.
Umar said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gusau on Tuesday, that those who left were engaged by federal and state government ministries and agencies.
He said a total of 11, 122 persons in Zamfara were engaged under the programme between 2016 and 2017 in the areas of education, health and agriculture.
The executive secretary added that 321 other volunteers were engaged under the N-Power Knowledge, where volunteers served under experts in hardware and software, and other related fields.
Umar, however, noted that it was very difficult to effectively monitor the performance of the volunteers because of inadequate vehicles.
“We have been receiving complaints from school principals and headmasters of absenteeism by some N-Power volunteers posted to schools, but we are constrained by inadequate mobility to monitor them effectively.”
The executive secretary appealed to Zamfara Government to assist them with vehicles to enhance their operations including monitoring of the N-Power volunteers.