On the first of October, 2013, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics embarked on a strike action which nobody believed could last for nine months due to the requests its members made to the Federal government, which they felt were for the general well-being of the Polytechnics community and their College of Education counterparts who finally joined them in the strike.
According to the National President of ASUP, comrade Asomugha Chibuzor, in his statement during the strike, It would be recalled that the 13-points demand of ASUP include: The need to constitute the Governing Council of Polytechnics (done), migration of the lower cadres into the CONTISS 15 salary scale (done),release of the white paper on the visitation to Federal Polytechnics, commencement of the New Assessment of Polytechnics (done), worrisome state of State-owned Polytechnics in the country most especially Kwara Polytechnic Owo, Ondo State among others where ASUP members are being victimized and paid ambulated salaries and the reluctance of the Office of the Head of Service to approve the revised scheme of service for Polytechnics.
“Others include the continued appointment of unqualified persons as rector and provost of Polytechnics, Monotechnics and College of Technology by some State governments, imposition of professors from outside the polytechnic sector, as rectors of polytechnics’, refusal of most governments to implement the approved salary package (CONPCASS) for their Polytechnics, Monotechnics and College of Technologies, the 65-years retirement age, the insistence of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to include Federal Polytechnics in the IPPIS module, against the Union’s prostration while other aims of the tertiary Education sub-sector were allowed to maintain the status quo.
Others, finally, were the continued recognition of the National Board for Technical Education as the regulatory body of Nigeria Polytechnics Commission and the snail-speed pace of the re-negotiation of the FG/ASUP agreement, as contained in the signed agreement.
From the inception of the strike a lot of efforts were made by the Union to see that the strike was resolved early so that it would be called off without much delay, but each experienced a set back due to one reason or the other. The last attempt before it was finally resolved was at the 77th National Executive Council (NCE) meeting of ASUP held at Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH)where everybody felt would yield positive result at the end of the meeting, but became discouraged and unhappy when it came to their notice that the supervising Minister for Education then, Barr. Nyeson Wike, traveled to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. And this, as a matter of fact, made the union to conclude that Wike’s absence and the Federal government’s attitude to ASUP’s demands formed the reasons the union voted to continue with the strike, if not through the intervention of the Federal government who appointed Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau as the Minister for Education with which the issues were resolved and the strike called off.
The strike action has come and gone but the implications or effects are seriously felt by these students who suffer it most.
Maduabuchi Amadi, a student of Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, told AMEN Super News through a phone conversation, “We have called off the strike and commenced lecture The examination time table was released on 18th of August, but the problem we had was that we did not cover what we were meant to cover before the examination started. The recommended textbooks were not made available to us before we embarked on the strike; and this was a thing of worry as most of us never had any book at home during this period.”
The words of Chidera, a student of Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, Enugu State, is not far from the point. In her account, “That strike did not do us any good, because we did not cover anything before the strike started. And now we are taking our examination without the lecturers teaching us what they should have covered to enable us prepare adequately for these examinations. Just three weeks after the strike, our examinations commenced.”
She added that the reason is that the management wants to make money from the fresh students and push us up without considering how prepared we were. And this type of thing can promote examination malpractice and sorting among students.
Gift Onwe, an HND I student of Oko Polytechnic, Anambra State, on her own , said that the affected students covered their school and were about taking their examinations before the strike commenced. It is the HNDI/HNII students that are in school receiving lectures.
Mr. Eze Linus, a parent from Oko in Anambra State told AMEN Super News, “Parents get worried when their children overstay the number of years they should in school as a result of strike. Now the strike has come and gone and our children were given few days before the examinations commenced. But we do not know how prepared they were before going in for their examinations. If they are ill-prepared, what do you expect from them? And what are the efforts of their lecturers to see that they are adequately prepared to enable them perform well in their examinations.”
Chioma Ekezie from Alvan Ikoku College of Education, through a telephone conversation with AMEN Super News, said,” I will say that there is no fear in respect to our forthcoming examinations. We are prepared to take our examinations, but waiting for our matriculation which is coming up on 4th of September. After that, we go in for the examinations.”
A staff of Federal College of Education, Eha- Amofu, in Enugu State who does not want her name in print said, “The issue of strike action in Nigeria is something that should be seriously discouraged by all. Be it in Education, Health or anywhere, because it has terrible effects on the bearers.
“In education, for instance, the nine months strike which ended recently has serious effects on the students because you cannot compare students who have been going to school since October last year to those who suffered this strike and expect them to perform same if given the same examinations to write. And the problem is that when a sector experiences a strike that lasted like ours, there is nothing it does not cause, let alone when it denies our students who are the leaders of tomorrow what they should know. I
“t is very appalling because students must take their examinations when the school management wants, and whether they are well prepared or not is what nobody ask of.
“What about the high number of our graduated students who have stayed more than two years at home without going to service? Yet others are graduating and joining the queue every year. We must get rid of this strike before it ruins our economy.”
Therefore, we call on the government and other stakeholders to sit round table and resolve whatever that would lead to strike action. Everybody must know that strike action does not favour anybody when embarked upon; even as some set of people embarked on it for their own good, there are millions of Nigerians who suffer most. Some even lose their lives. In fact, if one assesses what causes the strike, at times, one would know that the problem it causes supersedes the reasons for the strike. That is why every issue should be resolved by dialoguing. Personal interests should not be encouraged, because it brings confusion as each party would want its own desire to be done instead of having a collective agreement which would help in moving the country forward