By Emmanuel Edukugho, Olubusuyi Adenipekun, Dayo Adesulu & Alade Alademashodu
*Why ASUU rejects N20.6bn pay rise   *FG may take ASUU to Arbitration Court   *Poly workers still in trenches   *NUT threatens strike over TSS

The Education sector has been plunged into turmoil with universities still shut due to lecturers’strike that has entered the fourth week, Poly workers still on strike over CONTISS 15 and Primary and Secondary School teachers warming up for a showdown with government in September this year in connection with their age long demand for Teachers Salary Scale (TSS).

Frustrated students waiting to resume lecture
Frustrated students waiting to resume lecture

The amount of N20.6 billion, representing 40 per cent of what ASUU asked for, which was approved by government, has been rejected by the striking lecturers, deepening the crisis.

With the rejection of the N20.6 billion, the Federal Government is contemplating taking ASUU to the Arbitration Court.

In rejecting the offer, ASUU national president, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie said: “To emphasise salary at the expense of other critical issues in the agreement considered important for university education development shows lack of commitment to education.”

He also said the union rejected the salary increase because the Federal Government sees it as an award instead of a product of collective bargaining.

Poly workers vow to continue strike over CONTISS 15

Members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) have vowed to continue with their indefinite nationwide industrial action which enters the nineth day today until their major demand of immediate implementation of the staff Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure (CONTISS) 15 is granted by the Federal Government.

This disclosure was made on Monday by the Chairman of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) branch of SSANIP, Mr. Austin Azu Okoh while addressing the union’s members at a solidary rally in Lagos.

According to him, the union will not call off the strike because while rectors of the nation’s 17 Federal Polytechnics are already on Salary Grade Level 15, in line with CONTISS 15, it has not been implemented for Registrars and other officers below them, adding that while the Federal Polytechnics have not implemented it, some state polytechnics have since been implementing it.

A communique jointly signed by the National President of the union and the National Secretary, respectively  Messers Ganiyu Akinleye and A. Ndandok, states that the new salary scale has not been implemented due to unwillingness on the part of Federal Government.

It says: “Some State Polytechnics and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) have implemented the CONTISS 15 using the Federal Government circular Ref. No SWC/S/04/S.301/1 dated 18th January, 2007. It beats council’s (SSANIP’s General Executive Council) imagination that the same Federal Government, whose circular is being used by state-owned Polytechnics and NBTE to implement it, is still talking about the modalities for implementation of same CONTISS 15 for Federal Polytechnics.

The Council views this as unwillingness on the part of the Government to implement the circular after two years of its introduction, despite the fact that its cost implication has been captured in the 2008 and 2009 budgets.

Council condemns the idea of setting up the so-called inter-ministerial technical committee as this is uncalled for and unnecessary.”

Another grouse which SSANIP has against the Federal Government is the delay in paying the 24 months arrears of monetisation of fringe benefits to its members. To the union, government should immediately pay the arrears directly into employees’ bank accounts since the committee it set up for the verification exercise has submitted its report to the Federal Government.

The union is also demanding for the establishment of a National Commission for Polytechnics (NCP) to take full charge of regulating polytechnic education in the country as is the case with the National Universities Commission and the National Commission for Colleges of Education.

According to the union, the decree establishing the polytechnics did not originally cede the management of Polytechnic education to NBTE, which was only ceded to it in 1985, adding that polytechnics, Colleges of Technology and Monotechnics constitute critical sector of the nation’s educational system, as it provides viable solutions to the realization of the country’s cherished dream of technological and economic advancement.

SSANIP also expresses concerns at the refusal of the Federal Government to sign the 2000/2001 re-negotiated agreement with the union.

Before the commencement of a full blown nationwide strike by SSANIP on July 8, the union had earlier given the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum with effect from July 1st 2009 to implement CONTISS 15,  failure which the union will resume its suspended industrial  strike action with effect from July 8.

Meanwhile, it was gathered on Tuesday that the national leadership of SSANIP was summoned to Abuja by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode for dialogue to end the strike.

The strike by SSANIP is already taking a toll on activities in the nation’s polytechnics as delivery of non-academic services like admissions and  examinations as well as provision of essential services have been put on hold.

OAU students,  ERC declare support for varsity unions

The students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and their Students’ Union in collaboration with Education Rights Campaign (ERC), recently launched a solidarity campaign in support of the ASUU, SSANU and NASU’s strike.

The trio urged the federal government to immediately sign the agreements reached with the ASUU, SSANU and NASU.
The support was given at the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC’s), Secretariat, Yaba, Lagos during an occasion organised to commemorate the 10th Year Anniversary of the gruesome murder of five student leaders of OAU by cultists.

“We support the demands of the staff unions because they are demands that can reposition the education sector if met by government.

“ASUU’s demands include funding, genuine autonomy, condition of service and academic reform; which Nigerian students have been raising for decades with successive governments at federal, state and local levels.

“It is true that as students, we are suffering due to the strike but we put the blame for the strike on the federal government and its neo-liberal policies of education underfunding.

“If the Federal Government does not meet the agreement reached with ASUU in the next one week, we shall organise more protest actions all around the nation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, said a statement signed by Messrs Adejuwon Davidson and Ekienabor Adodo Destiny. president and speaker of the union respectively.

The union and ERC  further commended the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) for declaring Tuesday, July 14, 2009 as a day of solidarity protest to support ASUU, SSANU and NASU’s demands. It also urged all Nigerian students to participate in this protest and other actions called to force the government to fund education.

However, a statement signed by the President and Speaker of OAU Student’s union stated that  the slain students: George Yemi Iwilade a.k.a. Afrika, the then General Secretary, Students’ Union; Tunde Oke, Efe Ekede, Eviano Ekelemu and Yemi Ajiteru were murdered because of the struggle of the students’ union leadership led by Comrade Lanre Adeleke, the then President of the union and George Yemi Iwilade, Secretary General; for the reinstatement of Anthony Fashayo and 12 others expelled since 1995 by the university management.

Also, the student leaders were fighting against government anti-people policies and for adequate funding of education.

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