Hopes of Polytechnic students to return to school after the Federal Government announced the reopening of campuses were dashed on Tuesday, when Polytechnics lecturers under the umbrella of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) announced that they are not ready to return to classes.
Aside the existing industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the lecturers, they said the institutions have not put in place measures that would convincingly protect the students, staff and other visitors from contracting the COVID-19.
They, however, met with the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in Abuja, on Tuesday, on modalities to avert the pending strike that would further worsen the state of education in Nigeria.
ASUP President, Anderson Ezeibe, who led the delegation to the courtesy visit explained to the Minister their long standing grievances which he demanded that the Minister attend to them to avert industrial dispute that would, expectedly, cripple academic activities in the schools.
He was particularly concerned about the omission of bonafide staff names in the IPPIS platform, as well as non-remittance of check-off dues, including closing the windows to effect corrections where necessary. “Our members are deeply regretting why they heeded to the enrollment for the IPPIS,” he said.
He added: “We appeal that the Ministry urgently intervene in some of these lingering issues in the sector which is currently threatening the sector. It’s unbelievable that no single Polytechnic has benefited from funds meant to address the content of the NEEDS assessment exercise. The intent will, undoubtedly, be defeated if Polytechnics do not get the implementation.
“Also, the minimum wage took effect from April 2019 and up till now, Polytechnic lecturers in Nigeria are owed 10 months salaries despite different interventions from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
“Only two states, Kano and Jigawa, have implemented the minimum wage. Nothing has been made in other states. We also have states where members are owed 21 months salary and some not even paid during the lockdown.”
Nwajuiba, in his remarks, promised to look at the issues identified by the Union and revert to them within a week.
He said: “We are here to do what is right and in doing that, we would be guided by the extant laws and rules. So, we would not want to reply you verbally because a lot of the issues bother on laws and rules. We want to ensure that our schools are safe which is key in understanding how we want to approach all our discussion.”
He, thus appealed to community members to own the development of institutions within their vicinity as a means of bridging the gaps when and where necessary.