Okowa Fires 147 Over Aged Workers in Delta Tertiary Institutions
By Austin Oyibode, Asaba
Uneasy calm has enveloped the three Delta State-owned colleges of education in Agbor, Warri and Mosogar as well as the three state- owned polytechnics in Ogwashi-Uku, Otefe-Oghara and Ozoro, following a directive from the state government that workers in the six tertiary institutions who are 60 years of age and above should proceed on compulsory retirement with immediate effect.
A total of 147 persons, many of them in the upper echelons of the academic ladder, are said to be affected by the weeping order, which was conveyed in a circular issued by the State Ministry of Higher Education.
The circular which was signed by the Director of Administration of the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingsley Isichei, on behalf of the commissioner, Jude Sinebe, was sent to the affected tertiary institutions in the state for immediate implementation.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that no fewer than 147 teaching and non-teaching staff are by this directive to proceed on compulsory retirement in the affected institutions, having attained age 60 and above.
The 60 year age is the mandatory retirement benchmark for employees of the state, except the academic staff in the state – owned University in Abraka.
It was learnt that 60 members of staff of the College of Education, Agbor, whose ages range from 60 years to 65 years were affected, while the College of Education, Warri has over 27 members of its staff on the compulsory retirement list. Four staff of the College of Physical Education, Mosogar, were also affected by the directive.
Similarly, Delta State Polytechnics, Ozoro, Ogwashi-Uku and Otefe-Oghara have 25, 12 and 19 members of staff respectively expected to proceed on compulsory retirement as directed by the state government.
When contacted to give more details on the circular, Isichei declined to expatiate on the matter. He, however, directed our correspondent to see the Commissioner for Higher Education for further details on the matter, maintaining that the decision was “a state government policy”.
Efforts to reach the Commissioner for Higher Education, Engr. Jude Sinebe, for comments proved abortive as he was said to be having series of meetings with heads of the affected tertiary institutions and the representatives of the various trade unions in the institutions as at press time.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Agbor Chapter, Comrade Great Ossai, said in a telephone chat that the names of staff who were not up 60 years of age were allegedly added in error to the list of those to proceed on retirement, adding that the matter was being addressed by the relevant stakeholders in the state with a view to promoting peaceful teaching and learning environment in the affected institutions.