The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have again slammed the Coordinating Minister of Education, Nyelsom Wike over what they called his insensitivity to their plights and the poor standard of education in the country.
They said the minister’s action so far on their ongoing strike showed that all he wanted to do was to blackmail them before Nigerians in order to score cheap political goal.
It is recalled that the polytechnic lecturers commenced strike since last October while their counterparts at the colleges of education started theirs two months after demanding better infrastructure facilities, bridging of dichotomy between university degrees and Higher National Diplomas, better welfare package, among others.
And that since then, the two groups have been trading blames with the government. On the minister’s threat of ‘no work no pay’ policy, the two unions insisted that they were not bothered as their strikes continue.
The ASUP President, Mr. Chibuzor Asomugha and his COEASU’s counterpart, Dr. Ahmed Lawal maintained that the strike was not all about money as the government was making it to look.
Worried by this development, the Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education (SSUOEN), Okene chapter described the ‘No work, no pay’ policy as empty threat. SSUOEN is under COEASU.
The branch chairman of the union, Mr. Ajoge Abu made this observation during peaceful protest of members in Okene last week, saying it is a disappointment that the minister could give such order. He explained that the minister issued what he called a provocative circular rather than finding a lasting solution to the contentious issues on ground.
He pointed out that the union viewed this act from the minister as a sheer ignorance of labour law but would not allow that to distract them from the struggle.
In a related development, the strike by the polytechnic lecturers has grounded the economic and social activities on campuses and their immediate neighbourhoods.
One of such is that of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi. National Mirror’s correspondent who visited the institution on Tuesday observed that the environment had overgrown with grasses with the possibility of harbouring dangerous animals.
The lecture halls have also begun to wear cracks due to lack of activities while major roads were unkempt. The strike had already paralysed the economic activities of the communities around the polytechnic area as many people in the communities in petty trading within and around the campuses.
It was also discovered that the situation had seriously affected most house-owners and property developers in the areas, especially in communities such as Gwalameji, Rafin Zurfi and Yelwa where many of the students of the school reside.
Alhaji Faruk Dahiru, a house owner said one room apartment goes for between N50, 000 to N100, 000 yearly. He said business was at its peak when students return for new sessions adding that with the recent strike, life has not been easy for some of his tenants’ rent had expired in February and he cannot rent the apartments out as the tenant’s properties are still in the rooms.
“Some of our children who are coming from poor homes and want to be educated, are engaged by the University and polytechnic students to render them services ranging from car wash, laundry, housekeeping and so on and all these are no more for now.
“It is from such menial works that some of them sponsor their education. If the strike continues, it can affect the future of our children who now sit at home or gather at joints to discuss issues that may not add value to their lives because they are idle.”
The most affected are the food vendors whose customers are mostly students. A middle-aged woman, who simply identified herself as Madam Veronica and runs a restaurant outside the polytechnic, said she and her family chose to live in Rafin Zurfi because of the business she runs outside the polytechnic.
She said before the strike, she makes N10,000 to N20,000 in a day from the sale of different delicacies, adding that since the industrial action began, she hardly makes up to N3,000 a day.
“With this amount, I can no longer pay my shop’s rent which is to expire in three months time and I am forced to start considering relocation.” The story is similar from one trader to another. (National Mirror)
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