The Federal Government, on Tuesday, assured that concrete efforts are being made to address the various demands of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and its College of Education Academic Staff Union counterpart, which had led to protracted industrial action by the unions.
Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to end crisis and restore industrial peace to the nation’s tertiary institution at a meeting with the committee of chairmen of the governing councils of federal polytechnics in Abuja.
He disclosed that the Presidential Committees on Needs Assessment to public polytechnics and colleges of education had concluded their assignment and submitted their report to the Federal Government.
According to him, the report had already gone to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, for onward delivery to President Goodluck Jonathan.
He explained that President Jonathan, after looking at the report, would present it to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and National Council of States for their inputs and endorsement, adding that government would not fail in the implementation of the report when it was finally approved.
The leaderships of ASUP and COEASU had struck a deal with Shekarau a few days to his appointment as the Education Minister, to suspend their strike, in order to allow him study their demands and take appropriate action.
President, ASUP, Dr Chibuzor Asomugha, who had announced the suspension of ASUP’s 11-month-old strike after the NEC meeting, said the strike was suspended for three months.
He said: “The decision to call off the strike is in consonance with the demand of the present Minister of Education, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, to allow him study our demands.”
However, Shekarau, said he was confident that most of the issues would have been addressed before the expiration of the three months grace given by the unions for the government to take concrete action on their demands.
He said it was unfortunate that arrears of the harmonisation of salaries of the lecturers were allowed to accumulate to over N20 billion, but assured that relevant stakeholders, including Ministry of Finance, Salaries and Wages Commission would be consulted on how best to resolve the issue.
The minister said the White Paper on the visitation panels to the polytechnics would soon be released.
On the disparity between the polytechnic graduates and the university graduates, the minister said time was needed for the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, National Council on Establishment and other relevant stakeholders to take a position on the issue.