**Polytechnics lack support to meet Covid-19 protocols for resumption – ASUP
By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
In a fresh bid to avert a planned nationwide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, and executive members of the union met Tuesday, in Abuja.
ASUP delegation was led by its President, Anderson Ezeibe, who took out time to explain to the Minister their long-standing grievances, even before the emergence of Covid-19.
Ezeibe told the Minister of State, Nwajiuba that polytechnics in the country were not ready to resume normal academic activities as most of the protocols outlined by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 were not in place.
He said beyond the sentiments of announcing that all institutions resume, the Polytechnics lacked support to enforce resumption protocols, to which Nwajiuba appealed to public-spirited individuals in communities where these instructions are located to come to their aid.
According to Ezeibe, ASUP members are deeply regretting why they heeded to the enrollment for the IPPIS, noting that the policy had been characterized with the omission of bonafide staff names, non-remittance of check-off dues, including closing the windows to effect corrections where necessary.
Regarding the NEEDS Assessment carried out in all public Polytechnics, Ezeibe said till date not a single institution had benefitted from the exercise.
He also lamented the victimization of members over their participation in previous industrial actions, saying five staff of Institute of Management Technology (IMT) Enugu, including two staff of Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State have been dismissed without tangible reasons.
Also tabled before the Minister was non-sitting of the re-negotiation committee, stagnation of CONTISS migration parley, and a new trend of imposing a non-administrative staff to serve as Rector of Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State.
“Recall that we had issued 15days ultimatum and some pertinent demands before the Covid19 outbreak, being Nigerians, we had to encourage our members to endure, be that as it may, with the gradual reopening of economic activities, it is pertinent we bring up these issues again.
“This meeting is timely because at the moment all our members have been holding their congresses to embark on strike from next week.
“Our demands range from non-implementation of the Polytechnics NEED Assessment since 2014, no single Polytechnic has benefitted from this exercise, we feel the aim of embarking on the exercise will be defeated if non of our institutions benefit from it.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the new minimum wage into law but some Polytechnics are owed 10 months arrears, there are no indications that it will be released soon.
“Only Kano and Jigawa States are implementing, about 34 states are sitting on the fence doing nothing about it.
“Regarding IPPIS, our members enrolled in November 2019, as we speak we have lots of omissions, non-remittance of check-off dues and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation closed the window for correction on salaries and other entitlements,” Ezeibe lamented.
In his remarks, Nwajiuba said their demands would be subjected to further scrutiny with a view to putting forward constraints on the part of government that may also be delaying implementation.
He appealed to community members to own the development of institutions within their vicinity as a means of bridging the gaps where necessary.
As the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the world, ASUP had been bottling up their grievances, waiting for when the government will issue a directive for tertiary institutions to resume, so they can proceed on strike.
Recall that ASUP had issued a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet some demands dating back few years, some of which bothered on non-implementation of the Polytechnics NEEDS assessment, shoddy implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System IPPIS, non-remittance of check-off dues, delays in paying the recently assented National Minimum Wage among other grievances.