Academic activities in polytechnics nationwide have been grounded as lecturers under the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) begins strike, on Tuesday, over the neglect of the polytechnic sub-sector of the Federal and state governments.
The strike followed the expiration of the ultimatum issued to the government by the union in March 2020.
“You may recall that following our union’s resolve to embark on a strike action effective on 6th April 2021 at the 99th meeting of our union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Katsina a fortnight ago, we updated the Nigerian public through various media outlets of the unfortunate neglect of the technological education sub-sector by governments in Nigeria,” the President of ASUP, Comrade Anderson Ezeibe said while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the point of concerns for the union is the sorry state of the public polytechnic, monotechnics as well as the entire sub-sector; the failure of government to respond appropriately to the series of letters written on the issue, and the failure of government to respond to the ultimatum issued by the union despite its expiration since March 2020.
The ASUP President said: “Our members have been patient even when the Ultimatum in March 2020 was for 15 days. But our patience was taken as a sign of weakness.”
According to him, there has been a consistent move by the government to demarket the Polytechnic education and regretted that this has led to a steady decline in enrollment of students to polytechnics
Some of the demands of ASUP include: the non-implementation of NEEDS Assessment report of 2014 in the sector nor release of any revitalization fund to the sector despite assurances since 2017; and the 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 despite the presidential directive for the payment of these arrears since December 2019.
According to him, the union has written severally to the ministers of education and that of labour and employment but the government has failed to act thereby undermining the sector.
Ezeibe lamented that the action of the government is robbing the sector of the desired impact in the nation’s quest for technological development.
According to him, the union has also frowned against the non-reconstitution of governing councils in Federal Polytechnics and many state-owned institutions leading to the disruption of governance and administrative processes in the institutions since May 2020.
Ezeibe said 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 two years now.
He said: “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.
“Nonpayment of salaries in some state-owned institutions as our members are owed their legitimate emoluments ranging from five to 24 months in Abia, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Benue, Plateau etc.
“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. This situation has degenerated to the clamping down and brazens illegal seizure of the properties of our Union by the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Nassarawa.
“Non-establishment of a commission for the sector to bridge gaps in regulatory activities, as well as match the expansion of the sector while positioning the institutions towards the fulfilment of their mandate to the country.
“Non-implementation of the approved 65 years retirement age in the sector by some state governments notably Kano as well as the continued appointment of unqualified persons as Rectors of Polytechnics in some states.
“Offensive claims of purported tax liabilities in 19 Federal Polytechnics by the Accountant General of the Federation and plans to illegally invade the legitimate emoluments of our members in the same guise and to the tune of over N20bn.
“Inefficiency as well as the opaque operations in the deployment of the IPPIS in the sector. This is seen in the sustained non-release of third party deductions effected from members’ salaries in some institutions as well as mix-ups in the remittances of same.”