ONYINYECHI UDEMEZUE, Abuja
AFTER three months of grace given to the Federal Government by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) on their suspended strikes, the union’s leadership says it is re-strategising and re-considering available alternatives which include industrial action on seeking way forward over its suspended 10-month old strike.
ASUP President, Dr. Chibuzo Asomugha, disclosed this weekend in Abuja while speaking with journalists on the expiration of the three-month relieve period earlier requested by the Federal Government to sort-out key demands of the union.
Asomugha, who said the the-months expired on October 15 stressed that the strike option is the most glaring alternative, adding that the National Executive Council of the union would meet more on further deliberation.
The ASUP president added that the union earlier met with the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics and Non-Academic Staff Union on the way forward.
He said: “Recently ASUP met with Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics and Non Academic Staff Union and we are beginning to strategies.
“Our understanding is that the Minister has been meeting with stakeholders who are directly involved in different area of our demands”, he said
He said that the union had made attempt to meet with the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, on October 13 and they were made to understand that he was building basis for the next meeting.
Speaking further, Asomugha said: “In the interim of it, we were to meet him on 13th of October but it did not hold; we are hoping that by the time he invites us for another meeting, we will discuss meaningfully.
“I would not be in a hurry to say there would be another strike neither am I in a hurry to say there would not be. Students are becoming restive and members of the union are equally becoming restive and it is on this basis that our union would not be in hurry to make a stand.
“While the union is considering the fact that an almost one year old strike was just concluded, the effect is still there and we are still battling to ameliorate the effect and the way it is we may have to meet some more among ourselves so as to determine which way to go”.
Continuing, Asomugha said “the only body of our union that can determine if there will be a strike is NEC, its decision can only be made after we met with the Minister”.
On the issue of dichotomy the ASUP president called on all Nigerians to come together and put in their efforts so as to have an aggregate result in the implementation of the policy.
In his words: “Nobody is arguing about which one is superior or not, the issue is that what level of recognition is been given to HND certificate holders in terms of remuneration, advancement and placement and this is what the discrimination represents for us”.
Asomugha accused Policy makers as responsible for the implementation of the dichotomy removal in the Civil service, saying that at the point of execution, principal officers had introduced problem of sentiments on the issue.
“Several committees had sat and Government had had different directives and positions that up to 2006 there was a Federal executive directive that the dichotomy should be removed effectively with the Civil service.
“The issue is Implementation and this lies with the policy-makers principally, people who are produced outside the polytechnic and what you see is that at the point of execution of policy they bring in sentiments and this has been the problem in the Civil Service”.
He called on parties to its implementation to look beyond ego and see how the removal would be for the good of the nation.
Speaking further, he said: “The dichotomy issue is a multi-stakeholder matter. ASUP at this point is spearheading the agitation; involved parties include the National Assembly, the Senate, Alumni association, students, parents and the industry are all stakeholders as well as the employers of labour.
“The real issue is not about equalisation of degrees or HND compared to BSC but it is about recognising the efforts of people bringing competencies from the other sector into the field of practice”.