Tertiary education at brink of collapse as ASUP embarks on strike

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) over the weekend issued a one-month ultimatum to the government for the resumption of strike action.

Anderson Ezeibe, the national president of ASUP said the decision became necessary after the government failed to implement important aspects of the memorandum of action signed with the union nine months ago.

The ASUP president made the clarification while addressing journalists in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State at the end of its 102nd national executive council meeting.

He explained that the reason for the strike is that the government was yet to release the sum of N15 billion as the first tranche of the N800 billion revitalisation fund nine months after the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Following exhaustive deliberation, the union’s national executive council has resolved to give the government a further one month as an ultimatum to address the outstanding issues as listed or face a review of the suspended industrial action by our union,” he stated.

Ezeibe pointed out some of the issues as non-release of the scheme of service, delay in the appointment of rectors, and non-release of arrears of the new minimum wage.

Besides, he noted that many states are yet to implement the new minimum wage Act in their respective institutions since 2019 and their non-appointment of the board of directors.

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“We are deploying this medium to equally appeal to members of the public to prevail on the government to do the needful and avoid a shutdown of the sector.

“In choosing to extend the long-expired three months suspension period of our industrial action, we are convinced that the extra window of one month typifies our level of restraint.

“And consideration for our students and other members of the public even as we hope that the government will take advantage of this opportunity to avoid a shutdown of the sector,” he said.

Kingsley Okewunmi, a lecturer in one of the tertiary institutions told BusinessDay that government is the one killing the sector by entering into agreements they are not ready to fulfill.

“Government officials are probably killing our education sector simply because their children are not in any of the public universities.

“Just imagine ‘agberos’ are now having their children schooling abroad at the expense of the masses. Our lawmakers are not better off, we are actually in a sorry state in this country,” he said.

David Okafor, a social commentator sees the recent developments in the Nigerian tertiary education sector as one with a mix-feeling of hope.

“I see a situation where if we are able to resolve the crisis and allow the system to run naturally, we have a hope of a better future.

“But in a situation where things continue the way it is, what we will get is academic industries producing half-baked graduates with the consequences therein.

“Besides, youths will easily develop academic apathy, and channel their strengths to all manners of evil vices, while those who could afford foreign education will seek better learning environment abroad, and Nigeria will suffer the foreign exchange deficits,” he noted.

According to Ezeibe, the government should put more effort into the polytechnics education sector to be productive in technical manpower development.

“The country should not be looking for technical manpower outside the country, hence the need for government to do the needful,” he said.

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