Staff of the Higher Institutions Joint Action Committee (HIJAC) have lamented the neglect of higher institutions in the state by the government.
Speaking to journalists at the weekend, the Chairman HIJAC, Comrade Gbenezibe Amakiri asked the government to address their demands so activities in institutions of higher learning can continue without hitches.
He appealed to the government to look into issues of promotion implementation and poor subvention, saying the subvention policies should be reviewed or totally scrapped.
He said: “All civil servants are being promoted except the staff of higher learning institutions despite being taxed, and despite the stagnant payment.
“When his Excellency, Senator Douye Diri met with us, we suspended our two months old strike action and we met with the committee headed by the Deputy Governor, nothing happened in that committee.
“It was disbanded after a year and another committee was set up and still nothing is happening. They told us that the government does not have money. Our demands have been made, for the promotion that has been made in 2019 and 2020, the government can just say, pay them for the 13 months minimum wage arrears.
“We want the government to set a time limit for the payment. On the issue of subvention you put pressure on the university management to raise funds to pay staff salaries. You are now making the universities to look inward to generate money that is why the school fee is very high in Bayelsa State.
“We need to meet up, we need to look at the remote and immediate causes of these challenges in the higher institutions so government should raise those issues”.
He faulted the state government for allowing the universities implement the promotions themselves but lauded the effort of the prosperity government, adding that more attention is however needed in the College of Education.
“These engagements have been going on since 2015 till 2019, this success story that the government did was implementing from 2015 to 2018, and now we are back to square one let me be open here the committee just met last week Friday and they told us openly that the institutions should go and source for money and implement their promotions.
“There are so many projects that are pending. The abandoned projects are so numerous, hostels are all government abandoned projects, only the one TET Funds has completed that is making that school to survive.
“Governing council members should be competent professionals. Some of their tenures have expired. I want to say that we need an internal administrator. Colleges and higher institutions need competent people to manage them. They post people from outside who are not looking inward”, he stated.
The Chairman Academic Staff Union of Bayelsa State Polytechnic, Comrade Ayiba Fred Okilo expressed worry about the sorry state of educational facilities, adding that there is also shortage of staff.
He said: “Our worry is that our state government is playing politics with the development of the educational sector for seven years, 2014 to 2021. It is so appalling that there is nothing to write home about.
Government has not done anything for the development of the polytechnic sector. We need our institutions to be accredited, we need workshops, we need laboratories. Please Bayelsans go and check what is happening.
“There is no hazard allowance, it was removed by management in a bid to play around with the little they have. So it is a challenge. Many staff were laid off and some are also retiring so there is shortage of staff”.
The HIJAC’s demand amongst others are the implementation of 13 months minimum wage arrears, payment of 2019 and 2020 promotion, as well as promotion arrears from 2015 to 2019, implementation of the new national minimum wage, removal of salary payment and other allowances from the subvention.