The students of the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State, last week shut down the institution over a faceoff between the members of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and management of the school.
The students were protesting the failure of their lecturers to return to work following the directive of the federal government that academic activities be resumed in schools.
After months of closure forced by the coronavirus, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on October 2, ordered the reopening of all schools in Nigeria.
Mr Adamu urged all institutions to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines for the reopening of schools, as earlier announced by the presidential task force.
While many institutions resumed, that was not the case in Ede Polytechnic, due to the disagreement between lecturers and authorities. The teachers under the banner of ASUP said they are not ready to resume.
Not pleased with the continued delay of their academic activities, students barricaded all entrances to the institution between Monday and Friday. Their actions caused gridlock and paralysed business activities in the environment.
PREMIUM TIMES also learnt that the students locked the polytechnic’s gate against staff and visitors while they danced to music.
Explaining the reason for their actions, Adekunle Ajibade, the student union president of the polytechnic, said despite meeting with the management to ensure that lecturers resume, no concrete action was taken.
“We have long resumed since October 14, following the directive of the federal government, but unfortunately, our lecturers refuse to come to classes. We met with the school management to resolve this and find a lasting solution, but there was no concrete action”.
“Our reason for blocking the school gate is to express our grievances. We are tired and we are saying enough is enough,” he said.
Why we refuse to resume – ASUP
The lecturers also explained why they downed tools in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday. The teachers accused the management of not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and also owing them earned allowances.
Speaking for the lectures, Masopa Nurudeen, ASUP chairperson in the polytechnic, said the management of the school is not ready to allow normalcy reign and that students are failing to understand the plight of their lecturers.
“The students chose to go their way due to the fact that the union members are boycotting services. The Federal Polytechnic, Ede management, has refused to comply with the to COVID-19 rules put in place by the government.”
“When they asked us to resume, our members requested that all unions on campus should go for inspection and it was at there we realised that our fear is correct that the school is not ready for resumption”.
“Ordinarily, if there is improvement, they should invite the unions to go on the second round of inspection but that was not done,” he said.
Asides the alleged failure of the authorities to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, he said the lecturers are also demanding payments of their entitlements in arrears.
“The union is demanding entitlements of staff. The school is owing 42 months earned allowance in arrears and all of these should be addressed. The problem with the management is that when you declare industrial fight, they won’t address it, rather they will go the way of propaganda”
Asked when they will return to classes, Mr Nuruden said, “we are going to have our congress tomorrow morning (Monday) to decide.”
In reaction to the crisis, the polytechnic in a memo signed by the registrar, T. I Agboola, directed students to vacate the school premises and hostels immediately.
He said the school took the decision to “put in place good COVID-19 protocols. Given this, all students are to vacate the polytechnic campus, while those that are residents in the hostel are to vacate their halls of residence.”
When contacted, the spokesperson of the school, Sola Lawal, simply said the crises would be addressed sooner rather than later.
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