No Provision for Poly lecturers’ Salary in 2014 Budget, Says Education Ministry:
The Ministry of Education said on Monday that it could not perform any miracles to meet the financial demands of striking polytechnic lecturers as there was no provision for their salary arrears in the 2014 budget.
The payment of CONTISS-14 salary arrears has been one of the core demands of striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics.
At a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee in Abuja to find an end to the strike, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. McJohn Nwaobiala, told lawmakers that there was no way the ministry could pay the arrears without a budgetary provision.
Nwaobiala represented the Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, at the session, which was presided over by the Chairman of the House committee, Mr. Aminu Suleiman.
Nwaobiala also stated that much depended on the release of the White Paper on the visitation panels to the polytechnics by the Federal Government.
He informed the committee that the ministry was not opposing the payment of CONTISS-14 salary arrears, but maintained that the only setback was the lack of budgetary provision.
The permanent secretary said, “If I had a pit where there is money in the ministry to settle this, as I leave here now, we will settle it.
“In this year 2014, we don’t have a provision for settling this arrears.
“The minister had required for a special budgetary intervention to enable us to settle it.
“I can’t make a commitment to say that I will or that the ministry will release these funds in April or July.
“What I will say is that my minister needs to consult with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Minister of Labour so that we can know how we can get the funds.”
On the White Paper, he claimed that it was still before the government, which was yet to release it and not that the ministry was sitting on it.
”This white paper contains issues specific to each polytechnic and there are issues that are generic.
“It is for the government to say we endorse this or we reject this recommendation; we have been putting pressure that this White Paper be released.
“With little additional pressure within this week or next week, that White Paper will be released,” he said.
The House moved to intervene in the crisis following a protest letter, which ASUP forwarded to the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, last week.
The House had also taken a separate motion on the crisis, calling for urgent solutions to end the protracted strike.
Suleiman had alluded to the efforts of the House while opening the meeting.
Suleiman rejected the government’s position that there was no money to pay the lecturers and advised the two sides to tell each other the truth.
However, as chairman, Committee on Education, he did not say whether the money was in the 2014 budget or not.
His committee supervised the defence of the 2014 budget of the Ministry of Education before referring it to the House for passage last month. (Punch)
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