As the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) nears its fifth month, students under the aegis of the National Association Nigerian Polytechnic Students (NANPS) yesterday protested against what they described as the insensitivity of the federal government to their plight.
They also demanded the resignation or removal of the Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, for not being able to resolve the crises.
Protesting in front of the Federal Ministry of Education, the students bore various placards, bearing messages like â€œWike Must Go,â€ â€œGovernment is Insensitive,â€ among others.
Policemen were on ground to ensure law and order among the protesters.
Speaking with THISDAY, the National President of NANPS, Sunday Ogbonnaya, noted that the demands of the union had the backing of the studentsâ€™ body particularly as it concerns ending the discrimination against HND holders and demanding better funding for the polytechnics.
â€œThe last meeting between ASUP and the minister was inconclusive. ASUP initially had 13 demands, then streamlined into four. Having entered into agreements with the union, it is unfair for the government to fail to yield to the agreement. But we also appealed to ASUP at the meeting with the minister, if they are canvassing for what is theirs; they should not use students as negotiation tools in getting what they want.â€
â€œFew days after that meeting, ASUP met and said the strike continues and for various reasons, we believe in the struggle of ASUP. We are tired of staying at home. We are totally in support of the 13 demands of the union and we are ready to give them all the necessary support to make sure that those demands are met. We believe in dialogue, this protest would have come long ago but we decided to wait. But we want them to go back to work while negotiations continue. Let it be known to the public that what they are fighting for is in the interest of the public,â€ Ogbonnaya added.
In another development, the striking members of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have said the federal government is only interested in the 2015 elections and has therefore failed to pay the necessary attention to other sectors such as education.
The union, which has been on strike since December 18, 2013, threatened to embark on a mass protest to draw attention to their plight.
Rising from the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the union held at the Federal College of Education, Zuba in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the President of COEASU, Mr. Emmanuel Nkoro, lamented the failure of the government to release the White Paper of the Visitation Panel to the institutions since 2012.
Some of the contentious issues he listed were accreditation of courses in the colleges of education, integration of out-sourced services personnel into the main stream (particularly security) and approval of dual mode for colleges of education.
Others were harmonisation of conditions of services of all tertiary institutions to check brain-drain and payment of the backlog of unpaid death benefits to families of deceased persons, budgetary allocation for the payment of responsibility and academic allowances, non-standardisation and funding of sabbatical programmes in colleges among others.