It’s been seven months since the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, embarked on an indefinite strike to press home their demands, but the government has allegedly shown no readiness to accede to their request in a bid to ending the strike.
ASUP had gone on strike April 17, 2013, to press home demands for government’s proper funding of polytechnic education as well as addressing the disparity between the polytechnics and university graduates in the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, National President of ASUP, Mr. Chibuzor Asomugha, lamented that the government was killing polytechnic education in Nigeria as several meetings held with government to ensure re-opening of polytechnics yielded no fruits.
Asomugha argued that the lack of interest by government to implement its promises for polytechnics to be re-opened was a deliberate ploy to deny students of Polytechnics access to education.
Expressing concern that efforts to draw the attention of the Nigerian public might be given political colouration and union leaders branded as working for opposition political parties against the government, Asomugha appealed to all relevant stakeholders to intervene on behalf of the poor students who might not have somebody in government to speak for them.
The ASUP boss also appealed to relevant stakeholders to prevail on the government, Minister of Education, Permanent Secretary and Minister of Labour to do the needful.
“I am not going to be talking for government, we have been in this, they have given us promises, they have not been fulfilling them.
“The promises were simple things, we even had the understanding where they promised to implement within one week and it is more than four months now, everybody should reach government and let them tell Nigerians what are the problems. I cannot be speaking for government, what I know is that government is not doing any thing.
“We met them yesterday (Monday), the same promises and I don’t know why they find it difficult to fulfil the promises. Okay tell me yourself, what is the problem in releasing the White Paper that is ready? It is the government that should tells us that. The SGF should tell us why he is withholding the White Paper.”
The strike may not end anytime soon as Asomugha says ending the strike depends on the government’s actions and the position of the members.
“The way out is that we are still on strike until the members tell us whatever they decide with the strike.
“Government has been giving assurances in the past six months, the assurance of government does not amount to anything, that is why ASUU insisted on things concrete and people didn’t understand it.
“We agreed with government that they were going to take up four things out of the 13 that we had listed. Government has been able to meet one and half of those issues that we had listed. Even the NEEDS Assessment government constituted Committee is not working at the pace it should work, we are supposed to submit the report in February, up till now, we have not done much.
“Government said it was going to release the White Paper on the visitation to Federal Polytechnics, they were going to complete the lower cader of CONTISS 16 which was the thing that happened in 2009 and up till now, it hadn’t been implemented and then, that they were going to complete the appointment of six Governing Councils of six Federal Polytechnics which they have done.
“To constitute the NEEDS Assessment Committee to do the NEEDS assessments of the Polytechnics, which they have constituted and the Committee is more or less not working the way it should work. These are the four issues that we extracted out of the 13.
“There is a director in the Ministry of Education who is the Chairman of the Committee but the problem is that the Committee complains all the time of lack of funding from TETFund which is supposed to fund it,” Asomugha said.