The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to wade into the crisis facing the Lagos State Polytechnic.
Akinrinlola Ibitoye, the school’s ASUP Chairman, said during a protest in Lagos on Wednesday that the indefinite industrial action being embarked upon by the union was the result of the Rector’s misadministration and insensitivity to the issues that affect the welfare of staff in the polytechnic.
“We would like to place on record that the ongoing industrial action is avoidable,” said Mr. Ibitoye.
“It is as a result of the administration of the polytechnic reneging on the previous tripartite agreement reached on March 7, 2017, by the administration, Council, officials of Ministry of Education and the Staff Unions of the Polytechnic, to commence on the payment of CONTISS 15 migration arrears before the 25th convocation ceremony of the Polytechnic held on March 9, 2017.”
Mr. Ibitoye said the union further reached an agreement with the Council on May 25, 2017, and a 21 days window for the payment of the CONTISS 15 Migration arrears and other issues which the polytechnic administration had reneged on.
The union had announced an indefinite strike, with immediate effect, on April 20 over the non-payment of the arrears.
Mr. Ibitoye said at a meeting held earlier the same day that the union had been told by the Deputy Rector (Academic), who represented the Rector, that the administration had generated N343 million as at April 2017 and are only awaiting the approval of the state government before commencing payment.
“The union is, however, aware that the approval of the Council is enough for the payment of the arrears since it could be paid from the funds within the coffers of the Polytechnic,” said Mr. Ibitoye.
He said his union is at a loss on why the officials of the ministry who were party to the tripartite agreement on March 7, 2017, are now singing a different tune.
“The union is also disappointed that officers of the ministry which we hold in the high esteem and respect cannot keep to an agreement mutually agreed to by the three parties. The unilateral decision of the officials of the ministry to pay only six months of arrears is against the earlier agreement.”
In addition to the non-implementation of their agreement, the ASUP chairman also accused the polytechnic management of sidelining the statutory established Governing Council and, instead, conniving with officials of the education ministry to run the institution.
Mr. Ibitoye said despite the militarisation of the institution with 50 armed soldiers and 20 members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) with charms and amulets, after the industrial unrest of October, 2016, life and properties are still unsafe.
For instance, he said, the electric armoured cable close to the third gate of the institution was stolen twice; the Konsult, Procurement, and Alumni offices burgled; while Office of the School of Part Time Studies Evening (SPTSE) was burgled with millions of Naira both in cash and properties carted away.
“Smoking of Indian hemp beside the office of Chief Security Officer (CSO) is a common scene etc.
“The above ugly incidence leaves one to wonder the essence of the engagement of these so-called security officers.”
The union demanded the immediate payment of 16 months arrears based on the availability of the N343 million IGR of the school, while the outstanding 71 months be paid within a maximum period of two years.
They further decried the stoppage of workers’ pension since April 2016 and urged the school’s Governing Council to begin to assert the authority and powers vested in it under the laws of the Polytechnic 2012.
“The Polytechnic administration should make available practical consumables necessary for effective learning by the students,” the union said.
“These students are made to pay N10,000 each per session for practical and, for EED all students pay N3,000 each into an account they (administration) call third party account, compulsory payment of N5,000 by all students per session for ICT of which the requisite software are not deployed, only pirated software which is bad for the image of the Polytechnic.
“We appeal to the governor to immediately step in and execute the laws of the Polytechnic to the letter; otherwise, a further deterioration of the situation may force the Union to demand for a change in the leadership of the Polytechnic.”