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Non-teaching workers decry poor funding of institutions



News Today 2

The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has raised an alarm over poor funding of educational systems in the country, saying `it is a major factor promoting low development and productivity’’.

The Association’s President, Mr Chris Ani, who said this at the 7th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the Association in Abuja on Tuesday, stressed the need for tiers of government to reduce poverty among workers in educational institutions.

According to him, the union has played and continue to play a critical role in struggles aimed at ensuring that governments at all levels adequately fund educational, health and research institutions.

“We do this, conscious of the fact that the neglect of the funding of our public health and educational institutions is at the heart of endemic poverty among workers and the masses of this nation.

“Our public office holders are no longer concerned with the state of public health and educational institutions as they and members of their families have since lost faith in these institutions.

“They rather have resorted  to patronising private health and educational institutions at home and abroad, at great cost to taxpayers of this nation.

“Also at the heart of daily advocacy and struggles of the union are issues of improved salaries, wages, allowances and other conditions of services of our members and job security.’’

Ani noted that with the theme, “Funding Education, Health, Research Institutions and Other Social Services in a Depressed Economy: Challenges and Prospects”, more efforts were needed to implement the payment of peculiar allowances to staff of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

The president also listed other challenges to include payment of peculiarity allowance to Non-Teaching staff in Primary and Post Primary schools, Re-negotiation of the year 2009 and 2010 Agreement, and implementation of 65 years retirement age for Non-research staff of Research Institutes.

He stressed that State Governments ought to implement the retirement age policy and ensure appropriate funding of National Library of Nigeria and State Libraries Boards.

On Nigeria’s economy, Ani said it remained in a state of comatose as a result of over-reliance on revenue from oil.

He also noted the need for tiers of government to fashion out and implement policies that would grow the economy and bring about real development of the nation.

“Permit me to re-emphasis what has consistently been said that Nigeria’s economy needs to be diversified and that economic policies of governments must aim at growth and development; the policies must have as its focus, the wellbeing of citizens.’’

He said Nigeria’s taxation policies should be looked into, as it appeared that workers pay more taxes than others, calling for closure of the widening tax gaps between the rich and the poor.

“The increase in Value Added Tax and the increases in the charges of withdrawals and deposits by the Central Bank of Nigeria are very provocative to a workforce that is already over-burdened with excessive Pay As You Earn tax.

“The tax system in Nigeria is not broad based as it is very clear that only workers pay taxes in this country.

“It is unacceptable that the country is ever ready to give tax concessions and tax holidays to business while increasing taxes that affect workers adversely.’’

He called on the Federal Government to stop paying lip service to the fight against corruption and develop the political will and courage to tackle the issue of corruption, while seeking out alternatives to end rising youth unemployment.

Earlier, Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Amaechi Asugwuni, noted that the constant disregard of agreements with educational unions had made the learning environment more un-conducive.

Asugwuni said that with challenges of funding in institutions, productivity level had reduced, pledging the commitment of the labour congress to continue to support the leadership of NASU in its mandate and vision of an improved system.

The deputy president called on state governments to speedy up processes to pay the national minimum wage, saying that the union, in partnership with the Trade union congress, was monitoring current efforts in all states.

Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said there was the need for tiers of government to strengthen their institutions as a way of meeting the challenges of development.

According to him, the country has changed and the only thing that will enable us to adapt is to see that innovative ideas are available for change to occur.

“The difference between developing countries and developed countries is institutionalisation process. In developed countries, you find that over time they have learnt to create systems and institutions that outlived individuals.

“Individuals will come and go but those institutions remain and they last for thousands of years.

“As we strive towards becoming a developed country, the first thing should be more on what we create not whom we create, more on things we put in place for the future generation will see and utilise much more than what will benefit us today. Let’s begin to think longer term than just for now’’.

Highlight of the event was the presentation of award to Gov. Godwin Obaseki, JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Vice Chancellor, Imo State University, Prof. Adaobi Obasi, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.

Edited & Vetted By: Abiemwense Moru/Ephraims Sheyin

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