No Respite for Students of Polytechnics

Fri, Jan 17, 2014
By publisher


The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has vowed not to call off it three months old strike until the federal government meets its demands

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jan. 27, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THERE is no likelihood that the current face-off between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, may end soon. The face-off began on October 1, last year when ASUP called out its members to embark on strike over the refusal of government to implement the release of the white paper on the report of the visitation panel to federal polytechnics and the non-implementation the Needs Assessment of public polytechnics and welfare of members.

Other demands of the union include the removal of the dichotomy between HND graduates and those with university degrees in placement and career progression. The union is also asking the government to constitute an effective and functional governing council for polytechnics. The polytechnic teachers insist that they would stay away from classes until government addresses all contending issues and take appropriate steps towards repositioning polytechnic education in the country.

Clement Chirman, national publicity secretary, ASUP, said the meeting between the union and the federal government on January 6, in Abuja, ended in a deadlock. “The whole thing about the ASUP strike is that there is no definite response from government. It’s the same thing over and over again. It’s either we meet or we are meeting or we will meet; and after all the meetings, up till now, none of the issues have been tackled,” he said. He expressed disappointment that government did not attend to the union’s issues at the same time it was handling that of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. “Our expectation was since we were on strike while the government was negotiating with ASUU and at that same time negotiating with us, our cases were similar. Government would have just handled the issues together and forgot about them. “But government went ahead and attended to just ASUU and left ASUP. That will explain to you the type of thing ASUP has been talking about; segregation and the concept people have about polytechnics in Nigeria.”


Chirman maintained that polytechnics would remain closed until the government attended to ASUP’s demands. “The polytechnics will remain closed and nothing will happen until the funding have been provided and some other pending issues are addressed alongside white paper of the visitation panels to federal polytechnics and pay arrears owed to polytechnic staff,” he said.

On his part, Chibuzo Asomugha, president, ASUP, at a news conference in Kaduna, on January 8, accused the federal government of not showing concern over the consequences of the industrial action. He blamed the federal government for failing to implement four out of the eleven demands of the union which it had earlier agreed to. He said it was unfortunate that almost four months into its strike, the federal government was yet to invite the lecturers to the negotiation table. “While the government is busy intervening in other sectors where workers have been on strike or threatening strike, it has remained nonchalant about responding to the cry of our union,” he said.

Asomugha said the federal government had reneged on the implementation of the promises it made with the union which led to the union’s initially suspension of its strike. He noted that ASUP was only compelled to resume its strike when all entreaties to make the government honour its promises failed. “The situation we have at hand has sadly encouraged brain-drain as most lecturers take the polytechnic sector as transit camp to their preferred university system.” The union also lamented the discrimination between polytechnics and universities employees. The union called on the federal government to urgently address its demands on the disparities between polytechnics and universities employees in the public sector.

However, Nyesom Wike, minister of education, said the federal government would pay the N20.8 billion arrears owed polytechnic staff as soon as the procedure for payment was concluded. He said the federal government had met more than 80 percent of the demands of the ASUP. According to him, the only thing left to be done is the release of the white-paper on the implementation of their demands.

He said that contrary to insinuations by the union, the present administration held the polytechnic staff in high esteem, which led to the setting up of the Needs Assessment to determine the level of decay in schools and how much would be needed by the federal government to revive the institutions. The minister called on the committee of Pro-Chancellors of federal polytechnics to mediate in the impasse between the federal government and ASUP to ensure that Nigerian students return to schools. He, however, urged the committee to work towards ensuring that the institutions return to their original mandate of producing skilled medium level manpower to drive the economy.

Despite the alteration between the ASUP and government some polytechnics have started pulling out of the strike embarked by ASUP. The management of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, RUGPOLY, Owo, Ondo State, has announced that, all students of the polytechnic are to resume for academic activities starting from Monday, January 6, while those on Industrial Training are expected to resume on Monday, February 3.