*Meets with minister

The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Mr. Anderson Ezeibe, has stated that the strike by the union which commenced 12 midnight of April 6 still continues despite meeting with the federal government.

The ASUP president, who stated this on Tuesday at the Federal Ministry of Education after the union’s meeting with the minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said the strike has not been suspended as it is just a few hours old, adding that meeting with the minister is just the beginning of a resolution and until it has been satisfactorily resolved, the strike must go on.

He said it is not too late to convert the strike as it is a union that believes in dialogue, hence its ultimatum of 15 days which was issued in March 2020, calling on the government to look into the negotiations and do the needful.

“The expiration of the union’s ultimatum issued since March 2020, as well as the development of new issues of concern in the sector due to the negligence of the government.

“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.

However, the federal government has said nothing is impossible in reaching an agreement with the union while disclosing that the governing council has been selected and will be inaugurated in no distant time.

However, the minister stated that he will not go into specifics of the document handed over to him by the national president, which was a detailed brief of the negotiations.

He questioned why the Rapid Response Committee has abandoned its meetings, and went ahead to assure the union that all points raised will be carefully looked into and will be attended to.

He said: “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.”

The national president 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.

Also, 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 said.

According to him, “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.”

Other issues serving as bone of contention are 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. 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.

He said 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.

While calling 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, while positioning the institutions towards fulfillment of their mandate to the country, the ASUP president said the 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 must be addressed.

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