Non-payment Of Staff Salary: Akwa Ibom Community Shuts Down Private Polytechnic

The gate of Uyo City Polytechnic on Monday

The Ndue Otong Oku community in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has shut down the Uyo City Polytechnic over non-payment of 21 months of staff salary.

The gates of the institution were shut as palm trees signifying a traditional injunction and placards with different inscriptions were placed on the school gate. 

Some of the inscriptions read We the staff of the Polytechnic needs our 21months salary. We are very hungry. Etukudoh’s family honour agreement, pay our 21months salary. We no go gree. No payment no work. We need a smooth workforce. We have been fools for too long, and Accept the agreement, we are crying in silence.

In a notice dated March 16, pasted on the school gate, the Rector of the Polytechnic, Mrs. Idem Iboro, directs staff and students of the institution to proceed on a two weeks break, starting on Monday pending when the issues leading to the closure of the school will be resolved. 

“This is to inform all staff (apart from those on essential duties) and students to proceed on a two weeks break starting from today, Monday 16/3/2020. We regret any inconvenience this may cause. We appeal to everyone to remain calm as the pending issues will be resolved amicably. 

“Activities at Uyo City Polytechnic will resume fully on March 30, 2020”, the statement says.

In the meantime, Chairman of the community, Samuel Enefiok, has explained that following a protracted trade dispute between the staff and management of the institution the community invoked a traditional injunction to bring both parties to a negotiation table.

The action of the community, according to him, is to checkmate a breakdown of law and order which will have a spillover effect in the community.

Enefiok says the Clan Head of Oku, Etebom Enefiok Okpon, has fixed a meeting between the management of the school and the staff in order to broker peace and fulfill an agreement among the proprietor, management, and staff of the polytechnic.

Rector of the polytechnic, Mrs. Iboro, has this to say on the development, “I came this morning and I saw the barricade, so I put up the notice. I am still investigating the matter”.

A senior lecturer who did not want his name in print says he was in school early in the morning of Monday to sign the time book but was told by some staff to leave the premises.

‘’For 21 months no staff has received any salary even though we have been working. The proprietors of the school and the consultant have unresolved issues which have affected both staff and students, now leading to the closure of the school’’, he said. 

Vice-Chairman of the community Youth Forum, Marshal Effiong, is blaming the proprietors for the closure of the institution.

“Uyo City Polytechnic is being mismanaged by the proprietors. They owe the staff 21months salary and God sent Emmanuel Ekot, an engineer, to come and take over the school under an agreement. The man took over in September 2019 and changed the face of the polytechnic. 

“He spent N46 million to renovate the school but after paying two months’ salary, the proprietor said the agreement was not properly signed and called for a new agreement. He even denied his signature on the agreement, saying they should sign a new one. As a result, Ekot stopped his work in the place because he had started taking care of the welfare of the staff.

“Due to the feud between Ekot and the proprietor, Ekot decided not to manage the school again, that is why the academic and non-academic staff decided to lock the gate. The Chairman of the Village had to inform the Clan Head of Oku of the incident and the clan head ordered the chairman to put an injunction for peace to reign until when the parties involved are called to know what actually happened”, the youth leader said. 

Enoobong Etukudo, a church elder and one of the proprietors of the troubled polytechnic, has declined to comment on the crisis in the institution, claiming that he has to meet with the clan head first.

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