By Bimbola Oyesola
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has vowed to continue its ongoing industrial action even as it sustains current engagements with government.
The ASUP president, Anderson Ezeibe, however, said the governing councils for all federal polytechnics set up during the industrial action were due to be inaugurated on April 20, 2021.
He said the inauguration was expected to complete the governance structures in all federal polytechnics in the country and ensure the conclusion of stalled staff appraisal processes and appointment of principal officers in affected institutions amongst others.
“It shall also serve to resuscitate the abandoned renegotiation of the union’s 2010 agreement with the government,” he said.
The ASUP president noted that visitation panels have also been inaugurated for the federal polytechnics, but this, he said, was despite the strong reservations of the union to the composition of the panels, among other issues.
He said, “It is our hope that the outcomes of the panels shall mark a departure from the previous practices of non-release of reports. We have equally witnessed the recent appointment of a substantive executive secretary of the regulatory body for the sector.
“Reports from some state governments, notably Kano, Katsina and Osun, indicate ongoing and productive engagement as it affects issues of unpaid salaries, lack of governing councils and non-implementation of new minimum wage among others peculiar to the affected states.”
He expressed the union’s reservations on the appointment of five rectors out of the six rectors recently named, which he insisted were not qualified.
“Our union is disappointed and indeed is at variance with the recent appointment of unqualified persons as rectors in five out of the six new federal polytechnics in the country.
“We are further taken aback by the hollow reaction of the government in the form of a defense to this illegality. We shall continue to view these appointments as illegal as the beneficiaries fell short of the prequalifying criteria for such appointment as stipulated by law and therefore not appointable for the office of the Rector of any (Federal) Polytechnic in the country. We are determined to pursue this position to a logical conclusion for the benefit of the sector, the nation and in favor of the rule of law,” he said.
He noted that the union had two out of three scheduled meetings with the Federal Government as represented by top officials of the Federal Ministry of Education as well as Labour and Employment on the 6th and 14th of April, 2021, since it commenced the strike on Tuesday, April 6th.
“The third meeting scheduled for 15th of April was postponed to a later date due to the unavailability of the convener (The Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment),” he said.
He expressed that the strike would continue as it was initiated to draw the attention of the government to the deplorable state of the nation’s public Polytechnics and Monotechnics.
Ezeibe stated that this is with a view to a reversal of the fortunes of the institutions and placing them on a strong pedestal towards meeting their obligations to the Nigerian people.
He added, “While holding our position in the trenches of this ongoing engagement (until a time the organs of our Union deem fit), we shall sustain the current engagements with the government particularly in furthering and establishing the gains of the engagements of the 6th and 14th of April 2021. Details of these shall also be made known to the public at the appropriate time.”