Trade unions of the Ondo State owned-tertiary institutions under the aegis of the Joint Action Committee, JAC, have protested against what they described as continuous under-funding of the state-owned universities and polytechnic which is now crippling operations of the affected institutions.
The unions appealed to the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to order the release of more funds so as to save the educational sector from collapse.
While also calling for the implementation of the new 65 and 70 years retirement age for academic and non-academic staff of state universities and polytechnics as approved by National Assembly in the amended University and Polytechnic Miscellaneous Act of 2012, stated that its members have been among those affected the most by the rising cases of kidnapping in the state.
In a joint press statement signed by the JAC Chairman, Comrade Chris Olowolade and the Secretary, Comrade Temitope Aguda, the unions lamented that the inadequate funding especially reduction in the monthly subventions since June 2016 had affected payment of staff salaries, capital grants, promotion, accreditation as well as re-accreditation of courses at the state Institutions.
According to JAC, the state institutions mostly affected by the poor funding included: Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, AAUA, Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, OSUSTECH and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, RUGIPO.
On the spate of kidnapping, JAC said, “we are hereby pleading to Mr. Governor and Security agencies to do something as a matter of urgency on the security challenge in the state particularly kidnapping of members on Akure-Owo-Akoko roads.”
The statement reads, “We also want to use this opportunity to inform Mr. Governor (Akeredolu) that tertiary institution workers are not only suffering from insecurity but, this inadequate funding has resulted in the instability to pay salary, which has drastically kept members of staff in the Institutions in poor conditions as many could not take care of themselves medically thereby resulting to untimely death of staff.”
JAC also said, “the State Governor should direct the managements of Ondo state Tertiary Institutions to edit their laws and put into use the 65 -70 retirement age for the academic and non -academic staff of Tertiary Institutions as approved by the National Assembly and the Presidency in the amended University and Polytechnic miscellaneous Act of 2012.
“Subvention of the tertiary institutions in Ondo State was slashed in June 2016 under the last administration. For instance, RUGIPO subvention was reduced from N213m to N149; Capital grants have not been released to RUGIPO since Governor Akeredolu came on board in February, 2017. Money released for accreditation and re-accreditation were gross inadequate. Promotion of staff was carried out last in 2016 as a result of poor funding.”
The unions urged Governor Akeredolu to address various challenges facing the institutions to save them from untimely collapse and protect the future of education sector in the state from dwindling.