The National President of the striking Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Chibuzo Asomugha, has said the union will embark on a nationwide protest this week, if its demands are not met.
Asomugha, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone on Friday, described the Federal Government’s response to the strike as insensitive, and noted that the FG had failed to meet the union’s demands, despite several meetings to resolve the strike, the last meeting being in March.
He said, “After that meeting in March, the ministry was supposed to take our positions to the President for approval so that we can reach an understanding on resolving the strike. This was supposed to have happened within one week of that meeting. But since then, nothing has been heard from the government.
“The strike has lasted for too long. It is the height of insensitivity of any government that nothing is being done about it. We have reached our wits end and don’t know what to do again. Anything we do now is a manifestation of our frustration. It also shows that the government does not care about polytechnic education.”
In reaction to Asomugha’s claim, the Special Assistant (Media) to the Coordinating Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, Mr. Simon Nwakadu, told our correspondent that ASUP should stop deceiving Nigerians with its propaganda.
He said, “Last week, the Minister of Labour and Productivity and officials of the ministry of education met with ASUP, Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, with the Nigeria Labour Congress in attendance, to ensure that every party presented its interests so that the strike would be resolved. It is hoped that in the next one or two weeks, everything would be completely resolved.
“The only issue remaining is the settlement of their arrears, which is over N40 billion for both ASUP and COEASU. It was agreed that it would be paid in two instalments.”
Like ASUP, COEASU has also questioned the FG’s handling of the issue.
In a statement made available to our correspondent, the National President, COEASU, Mr. Asagha Nkoro, said the government’s resort to “the brinkmanship” style of facing the challenges in the education sector, particularly in the colleges of education, would only lead to counterproductive results.
“Despite the fact that agitations on the issues in contention began way back in 2010, the federal, some state governments and her agencies have not shown the least concern. On the invitation of government representatives, we have signed several MOUs, about six, and government keeps foot-dragging, and most times completely neglecting the sector,” the statement read.