The Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, in Kaduna on Thursday expressed optimism that the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics would soon call off its strike.
The minister said the Federal Government had decided to pay all the arrears and also meet other conditions of the lecturers.
Wike, who is the coordinating minister for education, said this after his meeting with all heads of parastatals under his ministry in Kaduna.
He explained that ministry officials had met with ASUP leaders last week to finalise the payment of all the lecturers salary arrears under the Consolidated Tertiary Education Institutions Salary Structure, amounting to N20.4bn.
Represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, Dr. Masa’udu Kazaure, the minister said, “I think the ministry is doing something about the strike by the polytechnic lecturers. The ministry has already calculated the arrears of the of the polytechnic lecturers which is one of the serious issues and it is N20.4bn.
“There was a discussion last week between the minister and the union and agreement was reached. The minister has raised a memo and now waiting for approval to get these arrears to be paid to the lecturers. I believe that as soon as this money is paid, they would call off the strike.
“If you look at other issues raised by the polytechnic teachers, some of them are at the various stages of completion. Take the example of NEEDS assessment, constitution of governing council, and the government has started implementing all these. So, as soon as we have met the conditions, the next thing is to sit down and clear the problems. The funds would be made available as soon as we get the approval.”
The minister also touched on the issue of disparity between university degree holders and Higher National Diploma holders, saying that the matter was being addressed.
”The issue of what is regarded as disparity between degree and HND holders was also addressed during the meeting with the union. The government has no intention to belittle polytechnic education. At the time discussion was going on with ASUU, the same discussion took place with ASUP. So, I think there is no iota of truth in the impression that government is belittling polytechnic education.”