Our Strike not Designed to Sabotage Government, Says ASUP
Demands Approval of N800bn for NEED Assessment
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has said that its nationwide strike which it embarked upon since December 12, 2018 is not targeted at sabotaging the government and has nothing to do with the 2019 elections, but a struggle to get government live to its responsibility of resolving all its demands since 2017 that have clogged the progress of the polytechnic sector.
Addressing a press conference in Jos, Plateau State, the Zone B Coordinator of the union, Abdullahi Yalwa, said the union has done its best to get the attention of government to meet these demands, some of which are not financial, but all the efforts have been treated with disdain.
He said the union had also written series of memoranda and had consultative meetings with the government, but all to no avail, thereby subsequently leading to the strike.
He reiterated their reasons for the strike to include: non-approval and non-implementation of the NEED Assessment report of N800 billion, shortfalls in personnel cost releases and withdrawal of allowances, unhealthy conditions of state-owned institutions, and non-release of CONTISS 15 migration arrears.
Others, according to Yalwa, are delay in assenting to the amendment of the polytechnic act, infractions in the appointment of rectors and continued victimisation of union officials.
ASUP said: “It is unfortunate that we had to resort to this last and only option and I assure the general public that we will remain resolute in the pursuance of these demands, so that we can salvage the sector from further deterioration. It is our hope that government will resolve this impasse as soon as possible and save this sector from total collapse. As we progress on this strike, we assure all our members that we will continue to protect their rights.”
Yalwa also lamented that a major problem facing the polytechnics is the composition of the governing council where politicians and government appointees, who are not necessarily educated, are appointed into the council by government to compensate them for their support, adding that these members can hire and fire at will and also recommend persons to be appointed/selected as rectors.
On the appointment of rectors, he decried imposition of university professors to head polytechnics rather that appointing from the chief lecturers in the polytechnics with requisite qualifications.
According to him, “Appointing university professors rather than chief lecturers (in the polytechnics) as polytechnic rectors is another practice that has seriously hindered the general growth of the institutions. This is because the professors who aren’t conversant with the running of the polytechnics will only come, serve their tenures and then return to their universities without any future interest in what happens to the polytechnics thereafter. So how will such a person who have no future stake after his service be committed to the development of such polytechnics?
“Besides, the template for the appointment of rectors is clear, and it states that it should be a chief lecturer serving in the polytechnic with at least five years experience. And a chief lecturer is only obtainable in the polytechnic system. The irony of it is that while a university professor can be handpicked and made a rector in the polytechnic, a chief lecturer from a polytechnic cannot be appointed as even deputy vice-chancellors or even Dean of Student Affairs in the university.
“So, if anyone wants to be in the university, let him be there, if it is the polytechnic he wants, then let him come and take our appointment as a chief lecturer, then after five years vie for selection as the rector.”