By Gabriel Dike, Lagos
Striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) on Saturday denied the claim by the federal government that it has met all demands of the union.
The union asked Nigerians to hold the federal government responsible for the prolonged industrial action in the polytechnic system.
ASUP members in state and federal polytechnics on April 6 embarked on a nationwide strike to protest the non-implementation of their demands.
Reacting to statement credited to the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, that the federal government has fulfilled all ASUP’s demands, ASUP Secretary General, Mr Shammah Kpanja, said it was made to deceive protesting students into submission.
Ikpanja in a two-page statement titled “ASUP will not bow to cheap blackmail and propaganda”, stated in that ‘the minister goofed in his remarks as he displayed an embarrassing lack of understanding of the issues in contention and progress being made in the engagements between the union and the government.
‘In fact, he alluded to this in his further statements when he claimed that he does not know why the union is on strike. We understand the minister of state for education gaffe on the day as he has not been part of the engagements in any way from day one, neither has he been part of the review meetings between the union and the officials of the Federal Ministry of Education.
‘lndeed, he does not know why the union is on strike. His embarrassing display on the day is typical of the display of majority of the political class in the country who take turns to deceive and hoodwink the populace irrespective of the sensitivity of the occasion.’
ASUP said the minister’s victim were the students who came to express their displeasure at the government’s insensitivity to their plight.
‘We will not educate the minister of state for education on issues that he should be properly acquainted with, but would make bold to say that the government is yet to fulfill critical aspects of the items contained in the memorandum of understanding it entered into with our union on the 27th of April, 2121.This is the reason why the union has remained on strike.’
ASUP further advised the minister state for education to endeavor to draw a line between politicking and governance and take closer interest in the challenges facing the education sector in line with the mandate of the ministry.
Ikpanya added that, while the union will make further statements on the status of the engagement with the government in the coming days, ASUP will not be intimidated by such poorly scripted pieces of blackmail by the minister as the union is determined to remain focused on the issues in contention.
‘The public should continue to hold the government responsible for the closure of public polytechnics in the country since 6th of April, 2021,’ Ikpanya stated.