ASUP Strike: "We’re on strike because of government’s insincerity" - Polytechnic Don

There seems to be no respite in sight for students of public polytechnics in the country as the lingering disagreement between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has now entered its third month.

A member of the National Executive Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), Gani Akinleye has blamed the current industrial action in Nigerian tertiary institutions on the insecurity of the government in keeping agreements.

ASUP embarked on an indefinite strike on April 29 to demand the implementation of the new salary structure and the release of the White Paper on the visitation to federal polytechnics more than a year after the exercise, among other demands. Presently, there are no negotiations or talks going on between the two parties as the last meeting held on June 14 ended in a deadlock.

This has led the union to accuse the federal government of indifference to the nationwide strike with a lack of political will to resolve the issues raised by the union.

Reacting to the incessant strike in Nigerian tertiary institution during a Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Akinleye, displaying a purported agreement his union signed with the government, said though committees were set up to implement the content of the deal, not up to 50 percent of what was agreed have been done.
“Sincerely speaking, Nigerians should hold the government responsible for what has happened in the last few months, two and a half months to be precise, in the Polytechnics sector” he said.

The unionist said this dishonourable action of the government was what pushed both the academics and non-academics staff in the polytechnics nationwide to down tools because “that’s the only language they understand.

“We have spoken the language of compromise, the language of negotiation which the government has failed to realize.”
He said the government had met the Polytechnic teachers just once since the strike began two and a half months ago.

According to Mr Akinleye, the Minister of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufa’I had said she was not aware that ASUP and SSANIP were on strike and that “She doesn’t even know who SSANIP is.”

He said, “If you set up a committee and invited members of these unions to be part of that committee how come you now turn around to say you don’t know them?”

Mr Akinleye said apart from the implementation of the agreement, other issues raised by the union included the failure of government to commence a Needs Assessment of Polytechnics and refusal to establish a National Polytechnics Commission, the dismal condition of state-owned polytechnics and the refusal of some state governments to implement the statutory 65-year retirement age for academic staff in their polytechnics.

He described as discriminatory, the disparity between the career progression of polytechnic graduates and their counterparts from the Universities.
He said, “You are quite aware that there are some banks in this country that says if you are an HND graduate, don’t apply. In Nigeria today even at the federal ministries there is a level you can get to with your HND. That is enough.

“Look at even the admission criteria; when you are admitted to a university, people see it as yes, you are on top of the world, they’ll say aaaah you’re going to a polytechnics. It is because of the psychology the Nigerian government has inputted into the mind of the people.”