The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has said that it had no option but to continue its strike action in the new year because the Federal Government failed to release the N15bn revitalization fund for the polytechnics promised in 2017.
The National President of ASUP, Usman Dutse, stated this in an interview with our correspondent on Friday, noting that the government, in the 2009 agreement, had promised about N603bn to polytechnics but it was agreed in 2017, that due to a paucity of funds N15bn should be released to show the government’s commitment.
The polytechnic union said it hoped that on January 10, 2019, when its leaders meet with the Federal Government to review negotiations, there would be positive responses and commitment from the government.
ASUP began its nationwide strike on December 12, 2018, citing the failures of the Federal Government to implement the 2009, 2013 and the 2017 agreements which it reached with the union.
Dutse told our correspondent that some state governments were also culpable in owing salaries for several months to polytechnic lecturers, adding that the concerned states must pay the shortfalls before the strike would be suspended.
He said, “In the report of the NEEDS assessment carried out, the government initially promised to release N603bn to polytechnics for revitalization. Because of the long delay, the prices of items changed and there were new public polytechnics established, so the money was reviewed to over N800bn. At the time there was no clear roadmap by the government on how to allocate the money to the institutions in tranches.
“But in 2017, at the last agreement, the government said it was facing a paucity of funds and other economic challenges, therefore it would commit itself to a revitalization fund of N20bn to universities, N15bn to polytechnics and N15bn to colleges of education.
“Since 2017, the money has not been released to polytechnics. It is after this initial release that we can then talk about the modalities to secure the other tranches. That was the position we took in the last 2017 agreement. The N15bn has not been released. It is one of the main reasons for our agitation,” Dutse said.