By Doosuur Iwambe
Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) on Tuesday commenced a nationwide indefinite strike over alleged neglect by the Federal Government.
Announcing the commencement of the industrial action on Tuesday, ASUP’s leadership accused the Federal Government of turning polytechnics boards to colonies of universities.
President of the union, Anderson Ezeibe, who addressed the media appealed to members of the public to show understanding and support efforts of the union towards salvaging the polytechnic subsector from total collapse, adding that the strike will continue until the government pay heed to their demand.
While accusing the federal and state governments of neglect of the education sector in general and Polytechnic education in particular, he expressed displeasure that the Federal Government has not responded to series of letters written over the matter since the expiration of the union’s ultimatum issued since March 2020.
Comrade Ezeibe listed the twelve-points demands of the union to include; non-release of the 10 months arrears of minimum wage owed members in Federal Polytechnics and non-implementation of same in several states own institutions, non-reconstitution of governing councils leading to disruption of administrative processes in polytechnics since May 2020 and victimization of officials of the union in some states own polytechnics.
He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the following demands were communicated to the government through the Ministries of Education; as well as Labour and Employment and indeed other ministries where our members offer services through various monotechnics.
The governors of the states where our members operate were also notified as appropriate.
“The non-implementation of NEEDS Assessment report of 2014 in the sector nor release of any revitalization fund to the sector despite assurances since 2017.
“The non-reconstitution of governing councils in Federal Polytechnics and many state owned institutions leading to the disruption of governance and administrative processes in the institutions since May, 2020.
“This has also undermined the renegotiation of the Union’s 2010 agreement with the government as such was unilaterally suspended by the government for over 2 years now.
Our union has continued to demand for the deployment of developed capacity from the sector over the years in this process and need to reconstitute the councils in line with the Amendments in the Polytechnics Act.
“The non-release of the 10 months arrears of minimum wage owed our members in Federal Polytechnics and nonimplementation of same in several state owned institutions.
This is despite the presidential directive for the payment of these arrears since December 2019.
“Nonpayment of salaries in some state owned institutions as our members are owed their legitimate emoluments ranging from 5 to 24 months in Abia, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Benue, Plateau etc’.
“We therefore appeal to the Nigerian public to show understanding and support the effort of our Union in this direction as government is yet to demonstrate any seriousness in resolving the issues as listed.”
Meanwhile, the Minster of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu has reaffirmed the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari led government to dialogue with ASUP members to ensure that the issues raised are resolved.
The minister gave the assurance after the meeting with ASUP president, Ezeibe saying that some of the issues presented by ASUP were already being looked into, adding that the President has approved the constitution of governing councils for Polytechnics and it will be inaugurated soon.
While stressing that nothing is impossible in reaching an agreement with the union, the minister stated that he will not go into specifics of the document handed over to him by the national president, which was a detailed brief of the negotiations.
He questioned why the Rapid Response Committee has abandoned its meetings, and went ahead to assure the union that all points raised will be carefully looked into and will be attended to.
“Today, I will not go into specifics or give you any answers. If I’m not mistaken, I have 13 points that you have read out.
The permanent secretary is not here, or else I would have asked him why the Rapid Response Committee is no longer holding its meetings.
The committee can solve eight of the issues raised.
“For the governing council, I can assure you that it is set already. We were just waiting for the break to be over and they will be announced and inaugurated.
All the points will be looked into carefully and I give you assurance that all will be attended to’’, the minister added.