Incessant strike in the education sector is a sign that Buhari has failed on all fronts
Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has on Monday, January 30, begun a one-week warning strike to demand the implementation of the ASUP/Government agreement of 2010 on the review of the Federal Polytechnics Act.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully supports the warning strike. The conditions in public polytechnics across the country are very bad. Unfortunately, government does not care. Meanwhile, without well-funded and fully efficient polytechnics; the quest for Nigeria’s industrialization would remain a pipedream.
We condemn the penchant of the federal government to renege or fail to implement agreement with ASUP and other unions in the education sector. We therefore call on the government to immediately meet ASUP demands in order to avoid an indefinite strike which could lead to a total shutdown of the system.
It can also be recalled that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on a one-week warning strike in November 2016 while the Non-academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) also went on a one-week warning strike two weeks ago. To us in the ERC, these incessant strikes in the education sector have significantly proved that the current APC/Buhari led federal government is not different from the previous Jonathan/PDP led government. Just like its predecessors, the Buhari government has continued to deliberately underfund public education, thereby leaving the education sector in a state of total collapse. We therefore reiterate our call for adequate funding of education by federal state governments. However, in order to tackle the characteristic menace of misappropriation of resources and allocations by school managements, we call for democratic management of all decision making organs with the inclusion of elected representatives of workers and students
Aside the non-implementation of the 2010 ASUP/FGN agreement, ASUP also listed other grievances which include alleged victimization of union officials, non-release of union check-off dues and undue interference in union activities, deliberate attempt at frustrating the resolutions of the meeting of the council on establishments, sustained poor funding of polytechnics and non-release of CONTISS 15 migration arrears. ASUP has further given a condition to the Federal government to either close down the system or redeem it from total collapse.
It can be noted that Nigerian tertiary institutions these days are characterized with dilapidated learning facilities, outdated libraries, non-payment of salaries and arrears, and general poor state of welfare. As if it is the solution, the managements of Nigerian tertiary institutions have turned to incessant increase in the tuition fee which has not in any way led to improvement in the learning conditions on various campuses. Instead, children of the working people are being denied access to public education through the outrageous charges and as a result, the rate of drop-outs has increased astronomically.
Against this background, the warning strike embarked upon by ASUP is a welcome development. However to gain popular support, we urge ASUP not to limit the strike to a sit-at-home action. Public mass actions like leafleting, rallies, congresses and public meetings should be organized to engage the public with a view to winning their sympathy for the struggle to reposition polytechnic education. This is also essential to gain the popular support of polytechnic students who have a lot to gain if ASUP demand are met.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Ibukun Omole
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary