You’re Creating Discord Among Varsity, POLY, COE Lecturers…COEASU Tells CVCON

Dr. Smart Olugbeko
President of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff, COEASU has sent a strong message to the committee of vice chancellors of Nigeria over comments that Chief Lecturers at COE and polytechnics.

Olugbeko in a statement said the vice chancellors are only trying to plant a discord among university, Polytechnic and COE lecturers.

Find full statement below:



We note with serious reservations the recent claim by the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) that professors in Nigerian Universities earn less than Chief Lecturers in Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

COEASU seldom engages itself in debates over the conduct of affairs of sister unions let alone the university system, which is the ivory tower responsible for the education of the top-level manpower of the nation. However, giving the innuendoes and implicit aspersions supposedly cast on Chief Lecturers, the most experienced and seasoned academics and those at the apex of our noble profession, it would not be preposterous to state that a measured response to the statement, in the form of a clarification as well as caution, is not just a matter of necessity but an imperative.

As a well-focused Union with enormous respect and empathy for Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), we would not have joined issues with the Vice-chancellors on this seemingly divisive comment except that it is not only misleading but also potentially counterproductive at this time when our Union is renegotiating the welfare of our members with the Government. The action of the Vice-chancellors contravenes the principle of mutual respect and solidarity between our Union and ASUU and the robust support we have shown towards the painful plight of ASUU members which we equally feel as Colleges of Education lecturers suffering the same poor conditions of service and remuneration.

Apparently, the comment has openly revealed the long-harboured prejudice and disdain some university lecturers seem to have for their colleagues teaching and doing research at the   Colleges of Education all over Nigeria. This is a tendency of casting aspersions on the capacity of Colleges of Education as citadels of learning. Ironically, some of these university lecturers are quick to apply for the position of Provost or sabbatical year in the Colleges. We enjoin the Vice-chancellors to note that Chief Lecturers in Colleges of Education are equally professional teachers who possess doctorate degree (Phd) which is the highest academic qualification, carry out research, train young minds for national development and engage in impactful community service.

The Union wishes to inform the Vice-chancellors that the salary structure specifically drawn for the academic staff of polytechnics and Colleges of Education is the CONPCASS. This is not the same with the university CONUASS, in terms of value in accordance with the levels. It also did not, initially, recognize the peculiarities of the College of Education system, in terms of the distinct responsibilities or job-specific functions different from those of others. In other words, the remuneration for peculiar academic allowances for academic staff dissimilar to the general allowances consolidated by National Salaries Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) was not included. However, the agitation of the Union which culminated into the endorsement of the FGN-COEASU 2010 Agreement paved the way for the inclusion of Peculiar Earned Academic Allowances (PEAA) in monthly salary as a non-consolidated benefit. This is another distinguishing factor between the salary of the academics of universities and Colleges of Education.

It is, therefore, quite evident that the Colleges of Education are not being paid the same salaries of universities let alone are Chief Lecturers’ salaries above those of Professors. It is, however, expedient to further clarify that what the government has done over the years has been to calibrate the salary structure of tertiary institutions staff by implementing the rate(s) of increase of emoluments across board for the appropriate staff of all tertiary institutions, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics, and universities.

The implicit derogatory manner that the Vice-chancellors’ statement purports raises the question of comparison, which is irrelevant, in the strict context of the systems. This is underscored by the fact that emoluments are relative to quite a number of factors among which are the amount of time, nature of work, and national policy or welfare agenda of a state. In the circumstances, notwithstanding the foregoing, it is instructive to state that relativity consideration in wages determination is not an aberration. This fact is so recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Minimum Wage Fixing, 1970 (No. 131) as part of the elements to be considered in the determination of wages is “. . . the relative living standards of other social groups” (Article 3).

In furtherance of the welfare concerns of workers of similar job orientation, therefore, one could contend that a recourse to what is obtainable in one context towards the determination of the other has ready acceptance, in fact is enjoined by the global body of labour, the ILO.
The Union’s unwavering advocacy for a single spine salary structure for mutually inclusive, or congruent systems remains unchanged. This does not presuppose parity as the COEASU has never been oblivious of the peculiarities in responsibilities and qualification, as the distinguishing factors that should, willy-nilly, be the indispensable determinant of allowances. The preference for the sort of structure is without prejudice to the ILO Convention on Collective Bargaining procedures especially in the determination of wages of labour rather it is an acknowledgement of the peculiarities of the Nigerian state among the comity of nations. By and large, the efficacy of such a structure to address workers’ needs is incontrovertible where a nation conforms with the living wage standards envisioned by ILO, especially Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which stipulates, among others, the right of everyone to enjoy ‘just and favourable conditions of work which guarantees to all workers equal remuneration for work of equal value, as minimum, for them to make decent living for themselves and their families’.

It is, therefore, the Union’s avowed insistence that government at all levels need take cognizance of this in the various engagements with labour in the process of negotiation of wages. In the context of the ongoing renegotiation of FGN-COEASU 2010 Agreement, therefore, the Union would wish that the government team takes administrative notice of such provisions in its engagement with the Union team towards determining what could be said to be an appropriate living wage not some parity with any set of workers.

For the avoidance of doubt, a visit to the office of the Chairman of National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission will afford the Vice-chancellors the opportunity of placing side-by-side the approved salary tables of academics in the University, College of Education and Polytechnic.

While the Union restates its solidarity with ASUU on the impasse with the Federal government, it suffices to state that COEASU’s sympathy with Nigerian students for their resilience and huge sacrifice for posterity is not in doubt. However, we enjoin the Committee of Vice-chancellors to look inwards and be perceptive enough to draw good lessons from our Union’s solidarity and partnership with ASUU rather than instigating unhealthy and unnecessary rivalry. There is the challenging expediency to want to caution against actions capable of  aggravating the already tensed atmosphere. Utmost restriction to what deflates tension is required at this critical moment that well-meaning individuals are trying to broker understanding between the parties in dispute. The import of this derives from the fact that the consciousness of the sensibilities of those that may be connected, however remotely, to the various agitations, is a prerequisite to entrenching sustainable mutual understanding. And that is what COEASU believes is sine qua non to disentangle from the current quagmire in the tertiary education sub-sector.