The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has accused the Federal Government of Nigeria of being deceitful. The association also condemned the levity with which the government handled the numerous agreements it had reached with the union before a three-month strike was suspended by polytechnic lecturers in July.
The union said the government, in a move designed to create the impression of being serious about the agreements, requested two weeks to meet all the union’s demands. A union spokesman then disclosed that the union gave an additional two weeks to the government which still failed to meet its obligations.
In an interview with our correspondent in Lagos, ASUP chairman Chibuzo Asomugha laid out the indictment against the government.
Mr. Asomugha declined to state that ASUP would resume its threatened strike. But he decried the fact that greater attention was paid to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during its own industrial action. He accused the government of creating industrial disharmony between lecturers at polytechnics and their counterparts in the universities.
“The situation is that ASUP’s suspension of her strike was predicated on the understanding that the government was to meet certain obligations,” Mr. Asomugha stated. According to him, “at the suspension of the strike on 17th July, we had generously granted government one month, as against the two weeks it demanded, to meet its avowed obligations.” He added: “Unfortunately, two weeks after the expiration of ASUP’s very generous consideration, the only obligation which the government has managed to meet in part is the harmonization of the modalities for the migration of the lower cadres of staff. Even in this, the government has not been able to definitely indicate where the attendant arrears will come from.”
The leader of the polytechnic lecturers’ union listed other areas where the government had promised action. The areas include completion of the appointment of governing councils in all polytechnics and the release of the White Paper on the visitation to Federal polytechnics. Others include review of the Federal Polytechnics Act, commencement of the renegotiation of an agreement with the union due since July 2012, a needs assessment of Nigeria’s polytechnics and proper funding of polytechnics.
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“Our members are clearly saddened by the seeming deceitful stance of [the] government in its understanding with ASUP that prompted the union to suspend its nearly 3-month strike,” said Mr. Asomugha. In addition, he lamented what he termed the government’s adoption of an unfortunate divide and rule approach to higher education in the country.
“Lately, [the] government’s whole attention has been focused on the university sector to the total abandonment of the polytechnics and the colleges of education,” he remarked. “We regard this perspective as unfortunate because, instead of resolving [the] lingering upheaval, it merely stokes the embers of industrial disharmony in the tertiary sector.”
Mr. Asomugha told our correspondent that ASUP condemned the policy of seeking to entrench discriminatory cut-off marks and admission dates for the different sub-sectors in tertiary education. “These developments have tended to cause a flux of restiveness among the membership of our union,” he noted.
From the tone of the interview, it appeared that the polytechnic lecturers were reluctant to resume the threatened strike as they still expect implementation of the agreements reached with the government.
The union chairman said the resumption of ASUP’s strike had been preempted by university lecturers since the government had also failed to fulfill its agreements with them.
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