+ The untold story of the nine month imbroglio
– ‘We won’t call off strike until…’ – ASUP
– ‘We are tired of sitting at home’ – Students
THE ongoing feud between the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and the Federal Government of Nigeria is in no small measure a threatening surge capable of retrogressing the hitherto cancerous Nigerian polytechnic system into the abyss of abandonment where it obviously seems to be destined for.
GENESIS OF ONGOING ASUP STRIKE
The education sector has reached a near collapse with the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP). When ASUP suspended its 81 days strike in July 2013, the Federal Government failed in its promise to tackle relevant issues within the one-month time frame given by the union.
In 2009, ASUP entered into an agreement with the government which was supposed to be negotiated in 2012, but between 2009 and 2012, nothing was done about that agreement.
The reason ASUP called off the 81 day-old strike in 2013 was because the Joint Committee on the Senate and the House of Representatives intervened. There were 13 issues raised in the earlier agreement signed in 2009, but the government decided to pick out four which it said it could handle within a short time frame.
FG argued and ASUP saw reason with them that some issues, such as the disparity between HND and B.Sc would require legislative actions and longer procedures. So, ASUP believed in the integrity of our leaders and suspended the strike with the hope that these issues would at least be resolved for the time being. These four issues include: release of the white paper on visitation to federal polytechnics; the completion of the constitution of the governing councils for federal polytechnics; the migration of the lower cadre of CONTISS 15 salary scale and the commencement of the NEEDS Assessment of Nigerian polytechnics.
ASUP said that the strike will not be called off until these four issues have been resolved in their totality. The government said they would settle these issues within two weeks, but when ASUP national executive council met, they decided to give FG one month.
ASUP suspended the strike, yet absolutely nothing was done. It was when ASUP resumed the strike that the government finally completed the constitution of governing councils and set up a NEEDS Assessment Committee. Even then, the committee was working at a very slow pace. After all the diabolical acts from the government, ASUP embarked on another strike on October 4, on the stand that the Federal Government must also meet the demands of ASUP, the same way they met the demands of ASUU. The fact that FG handled ASUU’s issues without giving thought to the polytechnic is an evidence of the disparity that ASUP is fighting against. ASUP had vowed that it would not go back on the strike until all its demands are met, and that the display of insensitivity by the FG is now out of hand.
‘If FG meets our demands today, we will call off the strike immediately’
– MR. YEKINI, PRO of ASUP, Yaba College of Technology chapter
The students are very angry about the ongoing ASUP strike, what is your reaction to this?
The students are not sincere with us. If they are, they are not supposed to be angry because they are even part of what we are fighting for. We can all see in Nigeria today, there is discrimination between HND and B.Sc, and it is part of our 13-point agenda to the Federal Government. So, the students need to be happy that we are fighting for them. It is not about graduating, but what are the things you are going to meet outside. This is part of what we are fighting for. We are not fighting for our pocket, but the betterment of polytechnic education in Nigeria at large.
What is ASUP doing about the ongoing strike?
ASUP has organized several meeting with the Federal Government. Two weeks ago, we had a meeting with the FG, but all to no avail, because government has a tactic they always use just to disorganize or persuade you not to achieve what you want to achieve. One month ago, Federal Government set up governing council chairmen of all federal polytechnics in Nigeria, and in doing that their aim was to persuade us to call off the strike. We were in Abuja with them demanding for 13-point agenda, which the Federal Government did not say anything about but were rather talking about CONTISS 15 salaries migration, which does not affect everybody. They just want to use this in convincing people that ASUP is fighting for money, which is not so. We will continue meeting till something is done about it.
Is there any possibility that the strike would be called off soon?
It depends on the Federal Government. If the FG meets our demands today, then we will call off the strike immediately.
Are you saying if the government does not do anything about it, then the strike will continue?
Yes, we are not also happy that we come to office every day not doing anything. We hope the government answers soon for the expediency of everyone.
What will you say to the students and nation in general?
We are appealing to them that they should join us in the strike, they should also cry to the FG through social media too and protest because we are fighting for their future and not for our own pocket.
‘The government wants to ruin our future’
– SHEKUN OLAITAN, Secretary General, YABATECH SUG
It is disheartening for a country like Nigeria that is regarded as the giant of Africa to be going through difficult times in education sector. Before the ASUP strike, there was ASUU strike that came up for about six months. Now ASUP. It is really annoying because Federal Government is not doing anything about it. Instead, they allocate funds for themselves.
What have you been doing at home?
An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. We have not been doing anything, and when you have people that are idle, it affects their thinking faculty. They can’t be creative to add value to their country. We are just sitting at home, tired and not doing anything. The government wants to spoil our future.
What do you want the Federal Government and ASUP to do about the strike?
I want the Federal Government to meet the demands of ASUP quickly, because it is for the students’ benefit. I totally support ASUP because they are fighting for our own good. Let’s clear this now, so it won’t hunt us tomorrow.
‘The government wants to kill education’
– LYNDA ANOSIKA, Student YABATECH
It is very depressing, because I am supposed to be through with my ND, but I am still waiting to start ND 2. It is very annoying. I plead that the Federal Government hear us soon.
What have you been doing at home?
I have been doing nothing at home, I am tired and idle.
What do you want ASUP and the Federal Government to do about this?
I want the Federal Government to listen to ASUP, because we are tired of sitting at home and the leaders of tomorrow deserve education, which the government wants to kill.
– OREOLUWA BELLO