ASUP and COEASU Strikes: The Truth Of The Matter

This article was sent to liveschoolnews.com.ng
by Gift Blessing, a Student of the Federal
polytechnic, Nekede. She actually instruct us
to caption it ASUP/COEASU Strike: The Truth
Of The Matter.
Read the article. Below:
Of recent, Nigerians have been served with an
over-dosage of sponsored propaganda by
politically minded unions leaders and their
drum-beaters who deliberately seek to mislead
the unsuspecting education loving people of
our great nation on the prevailing issues
concerning the prolonged strike actions by
Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP
and Colleges of Education Academic Staff
Union, COEASU.
They take advantage of the fact that most
Nigerians refuse to ask critical questions about
half truths and outright falsehood presented
to them by union leaders during trade
disputes. These union leaders also exploit the
stereotype that whatever goes wrong must be
placed at the doorstep of the Federal
Government and her officials.
The simple fact about the extremely prolonged
strike by the Academic Staff Union of
Polytechnics, ASUP and Colleges of Education
Academic Staff Union, COEASU is the fact that
the ball has remained in the court of the union
leaders for over four months.
Clear-cut agreements have been repeatedly
reached for the strikes to be called off.
However, on each occasion, the union leaders
after assuring that the concessions made by
the Federal Government would lead to the end
of the strikes, turned around prolong the strike.
At every step of the way, the Federal
Government through the Federal Ministry of
Education made critical concessions aimed at
resolving all the key four demands reached
after the unions, Education Committees of the
National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of
Education met at the beginning of these
prolonged strike actions.
Of the four key demands agreed by all parties
for the resolution of the strike actions, the
Federal Government has resolved three. What
is outstanding is the payment of arrears for
migration to higher levels for staff and
CONTISS 15.
The demands that have been resolved by the
Federal Government include
the establishment of Needs Assessment
Committees and the setting up of governing
councils. The office of the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation has concluded
work on the White Paper.
The white paper of the Polytechnics and
Colleges of Education will not be released in
isolation. They are to be released alongside
those of universities.
Contrary to what the public is being misled to
believe, the payment process of arrears owed
the ASUP, COEASU and other staff, which
stand at over N40billion has been concluded.
The Federal Government has placed an offer
before the two unions in terms of the payment.
Right in the presence of journalists, the
Supervising Minister of Education, Barr.
Ezenwo Nyesom Wike announced the Federal
Government offer to pay the striking workers in
two installments. The unions agreed at the
beginning, only to renege through a letter
written by ASUP. Prior to this public meeting
which ASUP objected, the ASUP President had
claimed that the Federal Government ignored
the unions.
The Federal Government has severally
engaged the striking unions through officials
of the Federal Ministry of Education and
Federal Ministry of Labour.
Countless meetings have been held at both
levels of top officials and at the Ministerial
level.
The Supervising Minister of Education has met
with the unions repeatedly as well as meeting
with leaders of National Association of
Polytechnics Students in very key steps to
resolve the strike. He has convened a public
meeting with union leaders, students and
Journalists in attendance.
The meeting agreed that the onus was on the
union leaders to act in favour of the
development of the education sector.
At present, the Federal Ministry of Education of
Education is implementing a new framework to
comprehensively address other concerns raised
by ASUP and COEASU leaders at the meeting
with officials of the Federal Ministry of Labour
and Federal Ministry of Education.
It is necessary to bring before the public court
once again, several progressive steps that the
Jonathan administration has taken to improve
Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. These
are hard facts.
The Jonathan administration released a grant
of N12.4 billion to all 51 Federal and State for
the equipping of their laboratories to enhance
their ability to deliver quality Technical and
Vocational Education.
Staff members drawn from the institutions
have also gone through training to enhance
their competence in the management of the
new facilities. In addition, N2.6 billion has
been provided for the rehabilitation of existing
laboratories in the institutions.
Aside the above investments, eight
Polytechnics and eight Colleges of Education
have benefitted from the TETFUND High
Impact Fund to improve critical infrastructure
in these schools. They are spread across the
six geo-political zones. Each of this school
got N1billion.
Under normal TETFUND interventions, the
Jonathan administration raised the bar. More
than any other time in the past, Polytechnics
and Colleges of Education are now better
funded. For Polytechnics, TETFUND support
for each institution increased from N240million
in 2011 to N337million in 2012 to N443million
in 2013. As for Colleges of Education grants
increased from N190million in 2011 to each
school to N319million in 2012 to N390million
in 2013.
The Federal Government under President
Jonathan has also expended N12billion for
the construction of teaching laboratories for
State and Federal Colleges of Education. This
in addition to the several training local and
international training programmes that
academic and non academic staff participated
in to improve their capacity.
In the course of the last four weeks, the
Supervising Minister of Education, Barr. Wike
and officials of TETFUND held town hall
meetings in the six geo-political zones on
TETFUND investments in Federal Universities,
Federal Polytechnics and Federal Colleges of
Education. At every meeting, civil society
officials, students, parents and media
practitioners witnessed first hand the massive
improvement that have been associated with
positive investments by the Jonathan
administration in all the nation’s tertiary
institutions. These town hall meetings
witnessed unrestricted question and answer
sessions. While ASUU participated in two of
these meetings, ASUP and COEASU instructed
their members to stay away.
The ASUP President, Chibuzor Asomugha has
embarked on an unproductive negative false
productive to the effect that the Federal
Government cares less about technical and
vocational education. Nothing could be further
from the truth. Development of Technical and
Vocational Education is one of the focal areas
of the Federal Ministry of Education Four Year
Strategic Plan. Nigerians are witnessing the
on-going construction of vocational schools
for Nigerians in the South-East and South-
South zones.
Nigerians must know that Polytechnics and
Colleges of Education are having the best
treatment under President Goodluck Jonathan.
The investments by the administration have
been targeted at lifting the institutions from
their hitherto neglected conditions.
Nigerians should begin to ensure that union
leaders account for their actions.
The power to strike is a critical asset that must
not be used frivolously. These strike actions
have down to the issue of payment of the
arrears, which the Federal Government has
committed to pay in two installments.
Discerning Nigerians would have clearly
discovered that aside hauling of insults at the
Supervising Minister of Education, the union
leaders bring nothing to table.
Restoring the Polytechnics and Colleges of
Education to their days of glory is a process
that the Jonathanadministration started since
2010. Before then, these schools suffered two
decades of total neglect. The facts as outlined
above speak for themselves.
In the coming days, all education stakeholders
must demand as a right that these union
leaders respond positively to Federal
Government’s offer of paying the outstanding
arrears in two installments. The future of
Millions of Polytechnics and Colleges of
Education students is at stake. This can no
longer be left in the hands of these union
leaders. Nigerians must ask critical questions
and demand immediate answers. There is no
reason whatsoever why these strike actions
should continue.

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