The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has warned that the nation’s public polytechnics may lose a full academic session due to the ongoing strike by its members.
The warning is coming as the Chairmen of Governing Councils of Federal Polytechnics and the leadership of the union plan to meet this Friday with a view to seeking an end to the strike.
The meeting, which holds in Abuja, The PUNCH gathered, comes on the heels of an earlier one the chairmen held with the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, over the impasse.
They met in Abuja on Friday, February 28 where, it was gathered, the minister asked them to prevail on the striking lecturers to accept the government’s proposal to fund the arrears of the Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure 15 Migration in two instalments and suspend the strike.
Teachers in the nation’s public polytechnics have been on strike for over 150 days. The strike started on October 4, 2013.
They are seeking, among others, the removal of what they regard as discrimination against polytechnic graduates, review of the Polytechnics Act, establishment of a National Polytechnics Commission and the release of the White Paper of the visitation to federal polytechnics.
They are also kicking against the poor funding of polytechnics, deplorable condition of state polytechnics, appointment of unqualified persons as rectors of polytechnics as well as the review of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and the funding of the CONTISS 15 Migration.
But the ASUP National President, Mr. Chibuzo Asomugha, who spoke with our correspondent on Monday, warned that if the industrial crisis lingered a little more, it might result in the students losing a full academic session.
He said, “Polytechnics in Nigeria have yet to complete the 2012/2013 session. The 2013/2014 session has yet to commence four months into the schedule.
“There is the clear threat that a full academic session is on the verge of being lost. Factor in also the immediate repercussions of social vices and sundry frustration. It is a thoroughly frightening spectre.”
He therefore urged stakeholders to intervene further in resolving the crisis.
Promising that the union would attend the Friday meeting, the ASUP leader, however, doubted the commitment of the Federal Government to resolving the crisis.
He said, “Sequel to our meeting with the government, at which a common ground could not be reached, NEC of our union met in an emergency session and reviewed the government’s proposal. However, NEC was not convinced that the government had shown enough good faith to win the union’s trust. When the minister invited us to the meeting, we attended with the optimism that government had finally decided to act in the necessary ways to end the lingering crisis.
“At the outset, the union brought 13 issues to the discussion table. At the instance of the government, the union accepted to suspend the action if government could resolve four of the issues identified by the government as resolvable in two weeks while discussions would continue on the other nine.
“On the strength of government’s promise, ASUP suspended the strike on July 17, 2013 but up until October 04, 2013 when the strike was resumed, the government did not address any of the issues as promised. It was after the resumption of the strike that government addressed two of the issues: the completion of the constitution of governing councils of federal polytechnics and the inauguration of the Needs Assessment Committee for public polytechnics. In effect, therefore, 11 of the 13 issues have yet to command the attention of the government.”
On the arrears of CONTISS 15 Migration, Asomugha said the union found it “disturbing” that the minister had reneged on an earlier promise to settle the debt between March and September.
He added, “A disturbing development is that shortly after conveying his proposal in a letter to ASUP that the arrears would be paid in March and September, the minister, within one month, shifted from his earlier position by presenting March and November to the council chairmen. He altered his earlier proposal without referring to ASUP.” (PUNCH)
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