“Polytechnics were very important in the society and the issue of strike cannot be ignored.”
The new Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, on Thursday met with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP.
The polytechnic lecturers embarked on a strike on October 4, 2013 demanding for proper funding of polytechnics and an end to the discrimination of polytechnic graduates in the labour market, amongst other.
On Thursday, the president of ASUP, Chibuzor Asomugha, congratulated the new Minster on his appointment.
Mr. Asomugha, on behalf of the union, expressed its disappointment, having to welcome the new Minster into office while polytechnics were on strike.
“You have been part of education, a teacher at some point in time, and you were also addressed as a Chief Lecturer, which is also something related to polytechnics; so we know you have sympathy for our sector. We are happy that you are here and we say, “Congratulations and welcome.””
Mr, Asomugha told the minster that ASUP’s demands were the need for a constitution of the Governing Councils of Federal Polytechnics, the migration of the lower cadres on the CONTISS 15 salary scale, the release of the White Paper on the Visitations to Federal Polytechnics, and the need for the commencement of the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Polytechnics amongst others.
Mr Shekarau in return expressed his gratitude to the union, stating that he would have loved to be welcomed on a very happy note. He noted that polytechnics were very important in the society and therefore the issue of strike could not be ignored.
“Let me begin by expressing my sincere thanks to the leadership of ASUP. As you rightly said I would have loved to be welcomed on a very happy note with a lot of celebrations eating and dancing. Nevertheless, it’s a very important issue that has been lingering. I have always refered to our polytechnics as an engine room of our technological growth and development. We cannot afford to ignore the polytechnics,” the minister said.
He pleaded with the union for time to assess its demands as he had just resumed.
He noted that every sector in Nigeria had problems, not just Education, and therefore called on Nigerians to be concerned about the affairs of the country.
Mr. Shekarau explained that he had taken to heart the demands of the union and assured that everything possible within his reach would be done to see that the strike was called off.
He pleaded with the union to call off the strike while the government saw to its demands.
Mr. Asomugha told journalists that the union was seeking for time from the government to see how the issues would be resolved. He said the union had gone beyond negotiations. He added that the fate of the strike would be decided by its National Executive Council, NEC, after the message of the Minster has been delivered to them.
“Our demands are not really complicated. We are asking is for Government to make a commitment, an assurance to us. There are issues on ground already and we not negotiating any more. We have reached an understanding on this issues so let’s government give us concrete timetable about how this issues will be resolved,” he said.
The union’s National Publicity Secretary, Clement Chirman, told PREMIUM TIMES that the union was satisfied with the outcome of meeting.
“Honestly you can see maturity and you can see someone that has the desire to come into this problem and ensure it is solved. We are happy at the outcome of today’s meeting and we have a lot of confidence in him. We believe that very soon this matter will be resolved, and we are going to meet the NEC to reveal what has happened here today,” he said.
Mr. Shekarau, a former Kano State governor, was sworn-in as minister by President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday.