It is no longer news that Abia State Polytechnic, Aba a Polytechnic duly owned by the Abia State Government has been in arrears in the payment of salaries to the staff of the institution, as at the time of the report, the staff are yet to receive their January 2018 salaries till date.
One but only wonders how they had been surviving all these travails as some of male staff amongst them have taken to riding of keke, using their cars for taxi business, while some of the female folks often testify about how they have re-sought to selling petty items like fruits and biscuits, some of the junior staff indulge in washing of some senior staff cars, bus conductors, and pushing of wheel barrows at the end of the close of work of every day so as to irk out a living for their families instead of going to steal.
For the purpose of truth, Abia State Poytechnic wage is #165 million monthly, this amount is gross inclusive of Salaries, Dues deducted from the Staff member Unions, Pensions, and Deductions due to the Co-Operative Societies in the Polytechnic, but unfortunately only salaries totaling #161 million net are usually paid subject the availability of fund in the system while the rest are kept aside and as such creating an unnecessary ply up or arrears of deductibles due to the various bodies.
Several Stories has been mentioned about why the Polytechnic cannot be able to pay itself from what it generates, I wish to put on record that it is not possible for Abia State Polytechnic to generate #165 million on a monthly basis as school fess are not collected as against monthly basis rather it is on a year basis. Secondly the annual drop in the student population is another major challenge for the Polytechnic as there are now in existence several sister institutions around the Aba Metropolis that is efficiently struggling with the Polytechnic for survival.
Abia State Polytechnic depends on a #90million monthly subvention from the State Government to augment with whatever it generates every month to pay salaries, it is however disheartening to note that Government has not even been regular and prompt in the release of the said subventions to the Management of the Polytechnic, probably if this was done as at when due for each month perhaps the number of months of salaries being owed won’t have gotten to its present level of arrears. At this juncture, the Commissioner of Finance (Obinna Oriaku) should be kind enough to tell Abians what exactly happened to the April-December, 2016 (nine months) subventions of the Polytechnic that was withheld by his ministry till date. For all of us that is the major cause of the backlog of arrears of the salaries as the nine months of #90miillion would give us #810million and comfortably pay off 5 months salaries at a stretch.
The comparison of Abia State Polytechnic Aba to Abia State University in terms of its ability to pay itself on a monthly basis is a laughable one, as both institutions do not charge the same amount nor run the same course programme for instance the lowest acceptance fee of ABSU is #60,000 while that of Abia Poly is #25,000 and ABSU has more courses than Abia State Polytechnic.
The Attention of the Government needs urgently to be drawn to the fact that almost all the courses in Abia State Polytechnic are due either for Accreditation or Re-accreditation, yet the Government of the day is just looking the other side while the Polytechnic struggles on its own to see how raise a whooping #500million for the said exercise if not it risks the possibility of having the Polytechnic shut down by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
One wonders why the presence of the Government has not been felt in the Polytechnic by the way of building any structure by the Government since T.A. Orji’s regime till date.
A constant change in the Management and Board would never solve these problems until the government wakes up from its slumber.
Jomo Iroha, a public affairs commentator writes from ABA
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