ASUP to FG: Pay up N676bn debt or else…

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• As 70% chapters endorse indefinite strike

By Gabriel Dike and Magnus Eze, Abuja

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has given the Federal Government 21 days to  implement its demands.

The ultimatum took effect from Monday, October 9, 2017.

ASUP rose from its 89th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting and issued the ultimatum to government.

In the October 9 letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the union accused government of negligence, after promising at a meeting on August 22, 2017, to address their demands within one month.

ASUP’s major demands are that National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) assessment for federal and state polytechnics estimated at N652.5 billion, Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Scale (CONTISS 15) amounting to N20 billion, short fall in salaries as at December 2016, estimated at N2.6 billion and earned academic allowance of N3.2 billion are still outstanding.

The union also frowned at the federal government’s continued silence over the closure of Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and Kaduna Polytechnic, for about four months, without any move to resolve contentious issues in the institutions.

ASUP’s National President, Usman Dutse, told Daily Sun that the decision to issue a 21-day ultimatumwere taken at the just concluded National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at Abia State Polytechnic.

He disclosed that government has not released funds to any polytechnic on NEEDS and payment arrears of CONTISS 15 and that about 70 per cent of ASUP chapters, during the referendum, voted for indefinite strike, but NEC decided on the 21-day ultimatum because of a letter from the government stating its efforts to address some of the demands.

“Results of the referendum presented at NEC by the chapters’ chairmen indicated that majority voted for indefinite strike. We decided to give government another opportunity, based on a letter from the ministry’s intervention committee,” he said. 

The grievanes of ASUP include sustained poor funding of public polytechnics as reflected in the unimplemented capital grants, withdrawals of allowances since 2016, shortfalls in personnel allocations as well as non funding of promotion exercises.

Others are non-removal of dichotomy against HND holders, victimisation of union officials, non-release of check-off dues, interference in union activities, non release of CONTISS 15 migration arrears, non release of visitation panel reports, delay in a review of the Federal Polytechnics Act, non-commencement of renegotiation of ASUP/FG agreement of 2010, and tardiness in appointment of rectors of federal polytechnics.

“For the federal government to allow the internal crisis at Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and Kaduna Polytechnic to linger for over three months is an indication of its contempt for polytechnic and technical education. NEC is worried about the situation and wants the issues resolved to allow for the reopening of the institutions,’’ Dutse noted.

He explained that NEC also condemned the backlog of salaries owed its members in state polytechnics and asked what the state governors did with the two batches of Paris Club debt refund money from the federal government.

“Our members in Oyo, Osun, Benue, Kogi, Abia, Edo and Bayelsa states are owed salaries between four and nine months…It is a reflection our commitment to polytechnic and technical education in the country.’’

Dutse further revealed that NEC frowned at the manner in which the Ogun state government is handling the situation at Moshood Abiola Polytechic (MAPOLY) and vowed that ASUP would resist the conversion of the institution to a university.

The ASUP boss said the governor should have established a new university rather than convert an existing polytechnic with over 16,000 students and about 1,500 staff and noted that “the purported establishment of new polytechnic at Ipokia was politically motivated.

ASUP’s General Secretary, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe, said CONTISS 15 migration for lower staff was approved in 2009, but government refused to release fund for the payment, while the NEEDS assessment was completed in 2014.

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