By Umar Muhammad Puma
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Mr. McJohn Nwaobiala, has said yesterday that the ministry of Education has not made any provision for salary and arrears of Academic Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), in the 2014 budget proposals.
Mr. Nwaobiala who represent the Minister of Education, Mr. Wyosom Wike, said this when he appeared before the House Committee on Education who held a meeting with the union and the ministry on the strike.
The permanent secretary said while the willingness is there to pay the CONTISS-15 salary arrears, he could not make a commitment to say the money will be paid at a specific time because there is no provision in the budget for it.
“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’ll say is that my minister needs to consult with the SGF and minister of Labour so that we can know how we can get the funds”.
Saying the ministry has no reason to refuse to release the document, he stated, “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 n within this week or next week, that white paper will be released”, he said.
Reacting to allegations by the president of ASUP, Chibuzo Asumogha, that the federal government had failed to implement the condensed 4-point demand of the union so that polytechnics can be reopened, the permanent secretary said the white paper has been stuck in the office of the secretary general to the federation.
He said government officials “imposed” the decision to pay the arrears in April and September on them and added that though the union had agreed to step down its 13 point demand, the federal government isn’t showing the needed commitment required to make them go back to the classroom.