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Auchi Poly workers protest unpaid salaries with coffin

Workers at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, last week protested alleged unpaid two months salary areas with a coffin and obituary portrait of their former Rector, Dr. Philipa Idogho.

The shameful protest which took place on the very day Dr. Idogho was handing over to the deputy of the institution after the expiration of her two-term tenure in office, marred the colorful ceremony planned for her exit in office.

‎The angry protesters who adorned black attires, marched through the school premises with obituary poster of the former Rector and a mock coffin, just as they barricaded the ever busy Benin-Abuja highway and subjected commuters and pedestrians to traffic gridlock for several hours.

‎Reacting to the protesters’ allegation, the former Rector, Dr. (Mrs.) Idogho, said the unpaid salary arrears ought not to be an issue, as it was not in the control of the polytechnic.

“Well, the polytechnic is on a platform where payments are made directly from the CBN into individual accounts and last year December we had a short fall of the salary and this salaries have already been uploaded. We only interact with the issue of salary online where somebody reviews and another person approves.

“When we did approval it was showing insufficient fund and so in January this year we wrote to the office of the accountant general and the minister of finance to complain.

“Already that issue is being looked into and while that issue was going on, we called the unions and we told them what was happening and at a stage the bursar and the national leadership of SSANIP met at the budget office to actually see what was happening with our salaries and they saw it and they equally realized too that it was not an issue of Auchi Polytechnic alone.

“For January we were paid and they got their salaries through December system and that is what we have been using for quite some time now. So it ought not to be an issue because they all know it is not within the control of the polytechnic,” she said.

‎Meanwhile, actions of the protesting Polytechnic workers have been condemned in strong terms by two women groups, Girls Power Initiative (GPI) and International Reproductive Rights Research Action Group (IRRRAG).

The Coordinator of Girls Power Initiative (GPI), Mrs. Grace Osakue, described the action of the protesters as unfortunate and barbaric, adding that singing funeral dirges of Dr. (Mrs.) Idogho was evil and uncalled for.

She noted that the former Rector did her very best to uplift the image of the institution in the provision of infrastructures than she met it, adding that “dialogue remains the best solution to the resolution of any wage dispute.”‎

“Dialogue is a better way of doing such things. They took it personal against her. The issue of financial challenge is not particular to the institution alone. It is a national challenge. I believe that there were known faces in that protest, so the Law enforcement Agency should go after those behind such barbaric act.

“The woman did not employ herself. You will recall that there was protest all over Nigeria last week over increase in electricity tariff. Yet, nobody held coffin of Fashola,” she said.

Mrs. Osakue however urged the former Rector not to be weary of the antics of the group, just as she called on law enforcement agencies to interrogate the protesters for questioning.

Also speaking, the Coordinator of International Reproductive Rights Research Action Group, Mrs. Jane Osagie, who admitted that though the unions reserve the right to protest unpaid salary arrears, said the approach they adopted was barbaric and unacceptable from such intellectual group.

According to Mrs. Osagie, “No matter what happened, I am not saying that the workers do not have rights to protest unpaid salaries. But it is indeed painful for such things to have been done against a woman who attracted so much development to the institution. That was too much. It was absolutely wrong for anybody to wish her dead.”

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