The striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have accused the supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, of not showing enough commitment towards resolving the issues that have sustained the indefinite strikes.
At a press conference jointly addressed in Abuja yesterday, the unions said the minister, instead of addressing the issues, choose to embark on propaganda and falsehood, giving the public the impression that the unions are being strong headed.
The National President of ASUP, Dr. Chibuzor Asomugha, also raised doubt concerning the setting up of a committee to address the dichotomy between Higher National Diploma (HND) and degree holders, which was announced by Wike at a retreat in Kaduna last week.
A statement issued by the minister’s office had claimed that ASUP officials are a part of the committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
Asomugha, however, said the union was not contacted and only read about it on the pages of the newspapers.
“We have not been contacted and we were not at any meeting by any committee. We are on strike on this matter, and they set up a committee on it. They would have told us, if there is any genuineness in it,” he said.
He added that the government offered to pay the CONTISS 15 migration arrears in two installments (March and September) which the union eventually agreed to.
“Did he pay at the end of March? At the end of March, he slammed a no-work, no-pay policy on us,” Asomugha added.
The Chairman of the Abuja chapter of COEASU, Dr. Ahmed Lawal, lamented that due to the refusal of the government to harmonise working conditions across tertiary institutions, the College of Education (CoEs) usually lose their lecturers to the university system.
He added that since the union went on strike in December, Wike had not made any effort to meet with them, even though his labour counterpart, Chief Emeka Wogu, had met with them several times.
Lawal added that if the CoEs which train teachers for basic education continue to suffer neglect, then the future of education in Nigeria remains in jeopardy.
The unions, alongside the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and some civil societies organisations would hold a peaceful protest in Abuja tomorrow.
“The protest is just the beginning. If the government does not listen, we will take other steps,” Lawal added.
ASUP resumed its strike on October 4, 2013 while COEASU embarked on the strike on December 18, 2013.