YES, AN ABSOLUTELY JUST CAUSE, MILORDS!
To be free, the workers must have choice. To have choice, they must retain their own hands the right to determine under what conditions they will work.
In every sane and serene society, employers of labor employ employees and assign to them designated tasks. The employee’s works, day-in-day-out, week-in-week-out with utmost commitment and most especially with an iota of expectation of getting paid at the end of a specific period either as wages or salaries, and coming together with the payment package are earned bonuses, increased promotional allowances as well as several other itineraries of remuneration.
It is even much more proportionately bloated if the workers are employed by a government say into the civil service to teach in higher institutions of learning: colleges of Education, Monotechnics, Polytechnics or Universities. Emphasis on Polytechnics. Additional remunerational efficacies standing as an addendum such as Research Grants of high standards should be statutorily available in an unquantifiable measure of abundance while subjecting all these variables into use under standard infrastructural facilities in terms of lecture theatres, state-of-the-art and up-to-date laboratories et al, to complement teaching by teachers and learning by students in order to create a subtle environment commensurate of a 21st century ultramodern learning standards towards easing academic and research endeavors a reason which higher institutions are purposely known to be established for.
Milords, it is, however, disheartening the sordid fact that next to none of the above-stated prerogatives and prerequisites are available to the workforce whom, in this case, is the Polytechnic staff. It behoves and as well transcends a wandering and wondering mind how workers of a trade union under the auspices of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics will work with all their strengths even with relatively constrained material resources necessary to enhance their performance, but at the long run be denied their emoluments which appears in form of accumulated bonus earnings and allowances as a result of neglect and wanton disdain emanating from successive governments of the federation. Transitional governments have usually failed to recognize and implement reports from innumerable meetings that had severally been held with the union leadership, and had, as well, faltered in coming into agreement with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as signed by the preceding Federal Government which had glaringly proved to be unreliable. These strikes, Milords, are hitherto justified!
However, milords, listed below are few of the agitations causing the hullabalous disagreement between the Union and the FG: implementation of the report of the NEEDS Assessment which revealed that public Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology in Nigeria require the injection of minimum of N652.6 million to address the rot in infrastructure in the sector; sustained poor funding of public Polytechnics as shown in the poor but yet unimplemented capital grant to Polytechnics; deliberate attempts at frustrating the resolution of the meeting of the council on Establishment held in July 2016 on the removal of entry level dichotomy against HND holders; Non-release of the lower cadres on the CONTISS 15 salary scale migration arrears amidst others.
Milords, isnt it quite incongruous and inconsiderate to realize that the FG had failed to fulfill to the Union, her heaven-and-earth promises come into fruition as the Union had tried enough to enable the incumbent Presidency to settle amicably into governance in over 2-years in government? Isnt it even more damning the ubiquitous fact that the FG is acting quite complacent with irrevocable neglect and non-challance as Usman Dutse, the Unions President, had asserted that the union had written several unrequited letters to the Presidency, their employer, via the Ministry of Labor and Employment without any tangible correspondence to show commitment and readiness that every serious Government who knew that Technical Education is sacrosanct and key to nation-building and development would have taken?
Permit me milords, to invite to the witness box Mr. Clement Chirman, an ex-ASUP national President who was at the helm of affairs during the last timeout of ASUP strike which commenced on Monday April 29, 2013 before a brief hiatus was brought to it and again resumed in October 4, 2013, only to last in July 2014 when the Nigerian Senate intervened. Hear him speak:
In December 2012, as a result of governments failure to address any of the demands, ASUP issued the government a 30-day ultimatum which expired on January 31st, 2013. However, although ASUP had reasons to embark on a strike in view of governments repeated failure to address its demands, it opted to give the government more time to respond. The response never came and that compelled the union to issue another 21-day ultimatum which expired on April 22 and was followed by a weeklong warning strike, then an indefinite one on April 29, 2013.
Each session of our meetings with the FG was unfortunately characterized by repeated promises and lack of commitment by the government (Premium Times, Feb. 15, 2014)
These are dire times and they are really challenging. My Lords, let the union continue her strikes as it is evident that, in Nigeria, the only language the government understands is: strike! But the Union should be considerate to the students too, as wherever two elephants lock horns in a deadlock, as the saying goes, the grasses underneath becomes the sufferers; Whenever the government finally shows signs of readiness and has met a quantifiably large part of their demands only then should they gather their thoughts and review the offers, in fact, anything short of that, should keep the strike in a state of continuum, because if they fail to do just that, they would have erred and become just as bad as a jabulani round leather ball under the Messis’ and Ronaldos’ tricky feets of the Government.
To part with, milords, to whom much is given, much is equally expected. ASUP had given —and sure will keep giving— her utmost best to the glorious service of her employers. But the favors and subsequent respite of rights are not been equally reciprocated. In essence, if the status quo persists, then I think nothing will ever be as praiseworthy as the union engaging in strikes. And milords, if I find that you do not agree with me after my efforts, I just might strike too. I rest.
NEVER! AN UNDESERVED CAUSE, MILORDS.
Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction
—John F. Kennedy.
It is pretty difficult for students to complete his or her tertiary education in our public Institutions in Nigeria without having a taste of the incessant strike actions. Thanks largely to the two over fed elephants, The Federal Government and the various Staff union of Institutions —specifically ASUP as this case is concerned— who are not bothered or who will not sweat blood about the negative effects and inflicting of pains that the grass (students) had to go through during the tussle between the two elephants. I was aghast on hearing about the bane that has always epitomized the dilapidated system of education in our nose-diving country that the “ọba adaniduro” is knocking our door again, getting ready to forcefully drag us along the rough road but then I need not be told to brazen up for the bruise that will be meted out during the tussle. I will only implore my fellow students to get a new shock absorber so as to control the stress and strain and also to keep and stabilize their minds for the journey is about to get bumpy and erratic.
If public education is an investment in our future and if students achievement is the top priority of a Public Educational System, then I don’t see any reason why the incessant ASUP strike is a just cause to fill the cracks and strengthen the deteriorating system of education in the country, maybe I need a glass to see through or better still a microscope to view the moral right or good. Just like it is difficult for a blind man to separate colors, it is also difficult for a country to progress when there is always a stone disrupting the flow of learning.
It is not only unfair but undeserving to spend extra years in school owing to incessant strike actions or of what benefits is it to complete a 4-year course in six? Oftentimes, ASUP enters this unnecessary war with FG with a shotgun while their opponent possesses a Kalashnikov and when the heat can no longer be endured, they cave in. Of what essence is starting a war one will not be able to finish? For years, lecturers have down their tools just to embark on a journey they won’t be able to get to the finish point. They always have deflated tyres on the journey. Most of the strike actions go on until the strikers no longer have the strength to strike any further, hence they give up.
It is absolutely appalling when after months of delay, the lecturer no longer possess the strength to continue the tussle, hence, decided to pick up their tools and start doling out rush hour lectures just because they wanted to cover grounds they should have covered within three months in just three weeks, which no doubt, is to the detriment of the students.
Without doubt, however, strike remains a potent weapon for drawing the attention of the government, but over the years it has failed to make any meaningful impact on the dwindling system of education in the country. It has only succeeded in slowing down the development of the country. The earlier we realized that incessant strike actions will only plunge the system of education and also the economy into an abysmal low, the better for us. We need not keep wallowing in this murky water. This direction will only lead us to the same destination. Milord! I will never be on the same page with my opponent who is ready to swim inside this troubled water with perpetual Nkwocha strike, I rest.