The supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, has described the planned peaceful rally by the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) as a political rally.
The unions are scheduled to embark on a rally today to protest what they described as the lack of commitment by the federal government to see to the resolution of the strike.
But Wike, while speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, said the government would not be blackmailed by politicisation of the strike.
“This government has shown commitment to resolving the issues, the next thing is now that they want to embark on a rally, everything becomes political. It is not good that politics must be put in everything just to blackmail government. There is no need for a political rally, it is uncalled for,” he said.
Wike also insisted that the government would not back down from the ‘no work, no pay’ policy currently in force against ASUP as it was not moral for the lecturers to continue to expect salaries without working.
He added that he received a letter from ASUP saying since the policy did not work with their counterparts in the universities, it will not work with them.
“They cannot even take a moral stance, that look, since we are not working, do not pay us. They started the strike in October, they were paid in October, November, December, January, February and they still want to continue to collect salaries, when our children are sitting at home,” Wike added.
The minister also clarified his statement on the setting up of a committee to look into the issue of dichotomy between the HND and degree holders.
He disclosed that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, had given the approval for the committee to be inaugurated, and this would be done latest Monday next week. Wike added that ASUP was yet to communicate to the ministry its acceptance for the N40 billion CONTISS 15 migration arrears to be paid in two installments.
On the allegations by COEASU that the minister had not met with them since the beginning of the strike, Wike noted that the union at various times had met with the officials of the ministry and the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
“They should not personalise the issue. If they have not met with me, have they not met with the officials in education ministry? It is not when they see me that the issue would be resolved,” he added.
He, however, appealed to both unions to suspend their strikes, especially as some of their demands had been met.
Resolving all the demands, requires certain processes, he clarified.