For not doing anything to end the four-month old strike by polytechnic teachers, the National Association of Nigerian Polytechnic Students wants President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Nyesom Wike, supervising minister of education
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 3, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
THE National Association of Nigerian Polytechnic Students, NANPS, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Nyesom Wike, supervising minister of education, over his inability to end the four- month old strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP. Sunday Ogbonnaya, national president, NANPS, said the students were in support of the strike embarked upon by their lecturers. He said: “ASUP’s demands have the backing of the students’ body particularly regarding ending the discrimination of HND graduates and the call for better funding of the polytechnics.
“The last meeting between the ASUP and the minister was inconclusive. ASUP initially had 13 demands, then, streamlined them into four. Having entered into agreements with the union, it is unfair for the government to fail to implement them. But we also made it clear to ASUP, during a meeting with the minister, not to use the students as guinea pigs to pursue a selfish cause. Few days after that meeting, ASUP met and said the strike should continue and we believe in the struggle of ASUP. We are tired of staying at home. We are totally in support of the 13 demands of the union and we are ready to give them all necessary support to make sure that those demands are met. We believe in dialogue; this protest would have come long ago but we decided to wait. But we want them to go back to work while negotiations continue. Let it be known to the public that what they are fighting for is in the interest of the general public,” he said.
Despite the reported meetings between the lecturers and the federal government, the contentious issues still remain unresolved with the lecturers vowing to continue their strike until their demands are met. ASUP has rejected federal government’s plea to end the ongoing industrial action after its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting. Clement Chirman, national publicity secretary, ASUP, said after the meeting that ASUP had resolved that until all the 13 issues contained in its demand are met, the strike would continue. The lecturers have been on strike since October 1, 2013, demanding, among other things, better working condition, infrastructure improvement, and an end to discrimination of polytechnic graduates.
According to him, the root cause of the strike is the failure of the federal government to honour an agreement it had with the ASUP in 2001. He said the 2001 federal government and ASUP agreement was reviewed in 2009 with an agreement that it should be re-negotiated after three years. The failure of government to call for a re-negotiation of the agreement in 2012 as agreed and the accumulated challenges confronting the polytechnics necessitated the union to embark on the strike.
“In December 2012, as a result of government’s failure to address any of the demands, ASUP gave the government a 30-day ultimatum, which expired on January 31, 2013. However, although ASUP had reasons to embark on strike in view of government’s repeated failure to address its demands, it opted to give government more time to respond. The response never came and that compelled the union to issue another 21-day ultimatum on March 25, 2013, which expired on April 22, 2013 and was followed by the declaration of a one-week warning strike which dovetailed into an indefinite strike beginning on Monday, April, 29, 2013. The issues, as contained in the union’s demands, are directed towards the proper strengthening and development of polytechnic education in Nigeria.
“ASUP initiated series of meetings and, indeed, met several times with government since August 17, 2013, to ensure that industrial peace was maintained in the polytechnics. Each session of such meeting was unfortunately characterised by repeated promises and lack of commitment from government. It was only when the government did not resolve the issues that the union embarked on another indefinite strike from October 4, 2013. As a result of the negotiations, out of the 13 demands, the federal government and ASUP agreed to work on four. These were: the need for the constitution of the Governing Councils of Federal Polytechnics, the migration of the lower cadres on the CONTISS 15 salary scale, the release of the White Paper on the Visitations to Federal Polytechnics, and the need for the commencement of the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Polytechnics,” Chirman said.