Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has said that it will sustain its on going industrial action which has paralysed education in most public polytechnics across the country until government addresses all contending issues and take appropriate steps to reposition the sector.
National President of ASUP, Asomuhga Chibuzo said at a news conference in Kaduna that it was regrettable that the Federal Government has failed to show concern over the repercussion of the ongoing strike by the polytechnic lecturers nor are they worries about the state of affairs in the sector.
Chibuzo said the attitude of government to polytechnic education in the country is a clear indication of the estimation in which government holds polytechnic education, a perception that has acerbated the discrimination and marginalisation of the sector and its graduates by both the public and private sectors of the economy.
He noted that while the government is busy intervening in other sectors that have been on strike or threatening strike, it has remained nonchalant about responding to the cry of the union and to end the on-going strike.
He said further that the critical state of the polytechnic sector today has significantly been encouraged by government’s attitude and approach to issues concerning it, adding that with the current attitude of government towards polytechnics, there is no guessing why the much talked about technological development has continued to elude the country.
According to him, part of the issues raised by the union was for the government to carry out a needs assessment of public polytechnics across the country just as it did with public universities in other to determine the funding needs of the polytechnics.
He said that “the universities were able to up with the funding requirement and the kind of funding they need after government has done a needs assessment of public universities. We have also asked government to do a needs assessment of polytechnics and it is only after an assessment that we will be able to come out with the funding portfolio of public polytechnics. Government has now set up a committee which is working at a slow pace.
“There is also the aspect of the migration from CONTIS 15 which was approved in 2009. Although at that time, there was an implementation, it only covered the top echelon from level 12 and above even though the circular at that time approved the migration for the lower echelon.
“It has taken us four years to get government to give another approval for the conclusion of this and the implementation of this, including the arrears will cost government about N20.6 billion. We have presented this to all the relevant bodies, but government has not been able to provide funding for this migration”.
The ASUP president said that even though the government agreed to implement four of their demands before the strike was suspended in July, none of the demands was implemented until after the union resumed the strike on October 4, 2013.
The four issues which he said the government agreed to implement were the immediate release of government white paper on visitation to federal polytechnics, immediate implementation of CONTIS 15 migration for the lower cadres and its arrears from 2009; the constitution of Governing Councils for the Six Polytechnics and the carrying out the needs assessment of public polytechnics.
He said further that it was only after the resumption of the strike that the government constituted the governing councils, approve the implementation of the CONTIS 15 migration, but has refused to fund it and approve the conduct of a needs assessment of the polytechnics.
He noted that the challenges in the polytechnic sector in Nigeria are many and hav4e hampered the creation for a more convenient platform for the sector to grow and develop as is obtainable in the developed and developing countries of the world.
The situation at hand he said “has sadly encouraged brain drain as most lecturers take the polytechnic sector only as a transit camp to the most preferred university system. The frustration is even more imminent as lecturers in the polytechnic sector are placed on the same salary scale with their non-academic counterparts as against what is obtainable in the university”.