By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–AFTER meeting with the Minister of Education,Mallam Adamu Adamu, polytechnic lecturers have vowed to continue the strike they earlier declared Monday morning.
The minister had invited the leadership of the polytechnic lecturers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics,ASUP, to a meeting with intention to convince them suspend the action but the meeting which held early on Monday, could not achieve its aim as there was no concrete resolution by the parties.
Mr. Anderson Ezeibe, the National President of ASUP, who led executive members of the union to the meeting with the minister, declared after the event that there was no going back on the action which began 12 midnight of April 6 continued.
According to him, the meeting with the minister was the beginning of efforts by both parties to find resolution to the crisis the led to the strike.
Ezeibe said :“Today therefore marks day 1 of the execution of the resolutions of our union. The strike has not been suspended as it is just a few hours old.”
He said the non-implementation of NEEDS Assessment report of 2014 in the sector, as well as the inability to release any revitalization fund to the sector despite assurances since 2017 is one key factor serving as catalyst to the strike.
The non-reconstitution of governing councils in federal polytechnics and many state-owned institutions which has lead to the disruption of governance and administrative processes in the institutions since May 2020 is yet another,” he added.
“This has also undermined the renegotiation of the union’s 2010 agreement with the government as such was unilaterally suspended by the government for over 2 years now. Our union has continued to demand for the deployment of developed capacity from the sector over the years in this process and need to reconstitute the councils in line with the Amendments in the Polytechnics Act.
Non-release of the 10 months arrears of minimum wage owed our members in Federal Polytechnics and non-implementation of same in several state-owned institutions. This is despite the presidential directive for the payment of the arrears since December 2019”.
“Nonpayment of salaries in some state-owned institutions as our members are owed their legitimate emoluments ranging from 5 to 24 months in Abia, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Benue, Plateau, continued victimization of officials of our union as seen in Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Federal Polytechnic Mubi as well as Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo,” Ezeibe said.
According to him,” the situation has degenerated to the alleged clamping down and brazen illegal seizure of the properties of its union by the Rector of Federal Polytechnic, Nassarawa.”
He appealed to the government for the establishment of a commission for the sector in order to bridge the gaps in regulatory activities, as well as match the expansion of the sector.
He also said the non-implementation of the approved 65 years retirement age in the sector by some state governments,as well as the continued appointment of unqualified persons as rectors of polytechnics in some states must be stopped.
On his part, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, expressed hope that the strike would soon be suspended as according to him, government had begun discussion with the aggrieved polytechnic lecturers.
Adamu also said the governing councild have been selected, saying they will be inaugurated soon.
He refused to disclose the content of the document given to him by ASUP president, declaring that he would not go into its detailed even as he said it was a detailed brief of the negotiations.
Adamu expressed disappointment that the Rapid Response Committee abandoned its meetings, and instead, assured the union that all points raised will be addressed.
“Today, I will not go into specifics or give you any answers. If I’m not mistaken, I have 13 points that you have read out. The permanent secretary is not here, or else I would have asked him why the Rapid Response Committee is no longer holding its meetings. The committee can solve eight of the issues raised.
“For the governing council, I can assure you that it is set already. We were just waiting for the break to be over and they will be announced and inaugurated. All the points will be looked into carefully and I give you assurance that all will be attended to,”he said.