… Says NBTE mandate excludes shutting down Institutions.
FIC Report (Abia State) Following accreditation withdrawal of the Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has approved the release of N450 million naira as subvention to the Institution to enable it pay four months out of the reported 10 months salary arrears owed the Workers.
Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, in a statement issued stated that the approval was announced when the Governor hosted a delegation of Students Union Leaders, comprising National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the National Association of Abia State Students (NAAS) drawn from Tertiary Institutions in the State.
The CPS stated that Ikpeazu clarified, during the meeting, that the state government is not statutorily responsible for payment of salaries of State Tertiary Institutions’ Workers, but promised that his government would not abandon them.
He said the Governor explained that what the state government owes the institution is a monthly subvention of N90 million and his administration from inception in 2015 till date, has paid a total of N7.1 billion to the polytechnic, making it a total of N92 million monthly for the 78 months he has been in office.
“With this N450 million additional support, the Polytechnic has received over N7.5 billion from his administration, hence the Governor wonders why the institutions’ managements were unable to manage their internal financial issues since they collect and retain all manner of fees from their students,” the CPS queried.
Governor Ikpeazu insisted that the Polytechnic must manage what is available to them since they handle their admissions independently and recruit their own Staff.
He noted that Ikpeazu pointed out, however, that the mandate of NBTE does not extend to shutting down an institution on account of labour related issues since it is not the National Industrial Court.
The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) had withdrawn the accreditation of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba over non-payment of Staff salaries and allowances for over 30 months.
The Head, Media Department, NBTE, Hajiya Fatima Abubakar, said this in a statement issued in Kaduna.
Abubakar said that the accreditation was withdrawn because the Polytechnic had not shown any commitment to offset the arrears and ensure regular payment of salaries.
She explained that regular payment of salary was one of a key component of the Board’s normative instruments for quality assurance in the Polytechnics, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions.
She also said that the Board had drawn the attention of the Polytechnic’s management to the dangers inherent in non-payment of salaries, including the suspension of quality assurance visits.
Abubakar also said that the Governing Council and Management of the Polytechnic made several failed promises to settle the backlog of salary arrears.
“The Board went the extra mile of writing to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State informing him of the dire situation of the Polytechnic but all to no avail.
“It is, therefore, with utmost sense of responsibility that the Board has decided to withdraw the accreditation status of the polytechnic to safeguard the quality assurance mechanism of the board.
“It is also to ensure that students are not left at the mercy of demotivated Staff that may resort to under the table practices to survive,” she said.
Abubakar said the Board had written to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), not to mobilise any graduate of the Polytechnic for its national service until the Institution remedies the problem.
The statement said that the NBTE would notify the NYSC when the accreditation status was restored.
She also said the Board also sent similar notice of the withdrawal of the accreditation to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Industrial Training Fund to stop any official transaction with the Polytechnic.
“Polytechnic proprietors across the country are also advised to take regular payment of salaries of Staff seriously as failure can lead to loss of accreditation,” Abubakar said.
In a related development, the Rector,Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, Prof. Okorie Kalu Osonwa has assured the students that the Management is in talks with the government to ensure the needful is being done.
The Rector while addressing the students at the school Pavilion charged them to go about their normal school programmes and lectures.
Prof. Osonwa said that, academic activities are on and not affected by the stories trending online.
In a few days time, will meet with the demands of all affected parties, he added.