The President of the striking Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Chibuzor Asumogha has disclosed that members of his union will embark on a massive protest in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal capital next week.
Mr. Asomugha made this known while speaking on a Radio Programme, Political Platform, on Friday morning.
Asumogha expressed the displeasure of the union at the way the government is handling the strike which has been on for about six months.
According to him the last time a meeting was held between the striking lecturers and the government was March 26 in Abuja. Asumogha also stated that the government team was led by the Labour Minister, Emeka Nwogu, while the president of the Nigeria Labour President, Abdulwaheed Omar was also in attendance.
Asomugha listed the “concessions” made by ASUP at the last meeting to include agreeing to a two-installment payment of the agreed salaries and allowances; and the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee to review the other contentious issues.
He also pointed out that it was agreed that the government delegation would brief President Goodluck Jonathan and come up with a “Memorandum of Understanding” that will be signed by both parties “this week”.
He said the union became concerned because there has been no word from the government since the last meeting was held about three weeks ago.
While shedding more light on the planned protest, he said market women, students, lecturers and labour unions who are all concerned with how the federal government was treating polytechnic education in Nigeria will be involved. He however did not state the day of the protest.
While aggrieved lecturers are already looking forward to the protest, Asumogha disclosed the union has not closed the door to an amicable solution to the strike as it has written to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to intervene in the strike. He added that the Senate President had replied saying he would intervene after conclusion of work on the 2014 budget.
Findings revealed that the only remaining contentious issue is the installment payment which incidentally the lecturers claimed to have agreed to.
Simeon Nwakaudu, the spokesperson to the Labour Minister had disclosed in March that the lecturers had refused the two-installment proposal the government had made.
He said “what is left is payment of arrears, which the government, during one of its meetings with ASUP, offered to pay in two installments.” While offering more explanation, Nwakaudu said if ASUP had accepted the offer of two installments, the first payment would have been made in March, while the second would be in November. He disclosed that the arrears for both ASUP and COEASU were over N40 billion.
Meanwhile, the lecturers have also disclosed that they are not bothered by the government’s “no work, no pay” rule. The ASUP President disclosed that his members have not been paid March salaries and as such, they are not expecting anything for April.