Tired of staying at home due to a five-month strike, some polytechnic students stage a peaceful protest in Lagos to plead with the federal government to meet the demands of their lecturers to call off the strike
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 31, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
POLYTECHNIC students want an immediate end to end the on-going industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP. In Lagos State, some polytechnic students, on Monday March 17, staged a peaceful protest to appeal to the federal government to meet the demands of their striking lecturers to enable them to return to classes. The students, under the aegis of Concerned Students Against Education Commercialisation, appealed to the government to reconcile with the lecturers.
They said the strike, which is more than five months old, was becoming too long and could jeopardise their future. The students disrupted vehicular movement for over three hours from Jibowu to Onipanu Bus-stop on the ever busy Ikorodu road. The students chanted solidarity songs as they demonstrated in their hundreds, displaying various placards with inscriptions such as “HND is equal or greater than B.Sc,” “Stop the discrimination,” “We say no to strike,” “We want to go back to our classrooms” and “Education is our right not a privilege,” among others.
Joshua Ayokunmi, speaker, Student Union Government, Yaba College of Technology, urged the government to end the strike to save the future of youths studying in polytechnics. He said the protest was to draw government’s attention to the yearnings of the students, who were being affected by the strike. “We are protesting to show our frustration and we do not support the strike. We are not happy with the government because the strike is being prolonged unnecessarily. We want the government to meet the demands of our lecturers so that we can go back to school. We are pleading,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ASUP, at the end of its 76th meeting of the National Executive Council, NEC, held at Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev, Benue State, between March 10 and 14, has reiterated its resolve to continue its ongoing nationwide strike. In a communiqu￩ signed by Clement Chiirman, national publicity secretary, ASUP, the union urged members to continue the ongoing strike until all the issues tabled before government are satisfactorily addressed. The union also expressed disappointment over the increasing insecurity in the country.
“The culpable insensitivity of government towards resolution of the 13 core outstanding issues that precipitated the on-going ASUP strike among which are the non-establishment of National Polytechnic Commission, the delay in the provision of policy frameworks for the elimination of HND/Degree dichotomy, re-negotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUP agreement and non-implementation of CONTISS 15 migration for the lower cadres. Government should urgently include Monotechnics and colleges of technologies as beneficiaries of TETfund intervention projects and also the ongoing Needs Assessment of public polytechnics. Rectors of polytechnics should follow due process in carrying out their functions to avoid industrial breakdowns and consequent performance standstill in the various polytechnics and Monotechnics.”
The communiqu￩ also suggested that the appointment of rectors should be done from within the academics of the polytechnic system to create self-actualisation among the members of the system. ASUP also appealed to delegates to the National Conference, to address the lingering issues of the union. “ASUP wants the nomination/selection of delegates to the National Conference to reflect the wishes of the people, in order to guarantee free and genuine participation of the participants of the conference,” the union said.
The union decried the increasing spate of security challenges in Nigeria, especially as they affect staff and students of educational institutions in Nigeria. It also lamented the re-emergence of fuel scarcity and its implications on the well-being of the economy. ASUP condemned the growing political tension being generated by the Nigerian political class and its consequences on the unity and future of the nation. It, therefore, called on politicians to demonstrate maturity and statesmanship, both in words and actions for national interest.