From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The body of Governing Council Chairmen of the Federal Colleges of Education (FCEs) has appealed to the academic staff of the Federal Colleges of Education under the umbrella of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) to call off the ongoing nationwide strike that, according to them, has crippled academic and non-academic activities in the institutions.
The Chairmen admitted that the lecturers are fighting for a just course, but the option of shutting down the institutions to achieve their demand was not the right one as it does more harm than good especially to the students who would be forced to suffer academic delay.
They, however, informed that discussions are ongoing by the stakeholders to resolve the lingering issues that resulted in the nationwide strike.
Chairman of Chairmen, Abdulmalik Mahmood, made the appeal at the National Assembly, Abuja, when he led other members of the body on a courtesy visit to the Chairman, House Of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education, Hon. Aminu Suleiman.
He, on behalf of his colleagues, solicited the intervention of the National Assembly members to the amendment of the Act establishing Federal Colleges of Education, as well as their relationship with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) as regards funding of projects and other interventions in the Colleges.
In addition to that, he reminded the lawmakers of the need to facilitate the release of the N2 billion NEEDS fund which will, expectedly, help the Colleges to complement the effort of TETFund in providing the needed infrastructural and other services in the institutions.
The Chairmen registered their displeasure with TETFund over their continuous and forceful insistence that the Colleges must follow their rules in spending their intervention allocations, even when it’s not in their priority list.
They unanimously agreed that it’s time the Federal Government raise its subvention to the Colleges to enable them sustain the rising running cost of the Colleges. “Some of the Colleges get paltry sum of N6 million as running cost.
“That’s not sustainable this time that cost of living and operations has doubled or tripled. For instance, the cost of diesel is over N800 per litre. Undoubtedly, there’s need for upward review of the cost of running the Colleges.”
He also reminded the lawmakers of the need to expedite action on the amendment of the establishment Act of the Colleges of Education so they can serve its purpose efficiently and effectively.
In his response, the House Committee Chairman, appreciated their visit, describing it an avenue to strengthen friendship and also discuss issues affecting tertiary institutions in Nigeria with focus on Colleges of Education.
He, however, informed the Council Chairmen that lawmakers have completed work on the Colleges of Education Amendment Bill, and are waiting harmonization with the Senate before the formal transmission to the President for assent.
He advised them to strengthen their contacts and connections at the Presidency so they can follow up and ensure the President give his assent to the piece of legislation before the end of his tenure in office.
On TETFund related matter, the lawmaker said that the Fund, perhaps, adopted the measures to ensure control and adherence to rules of engagement.