By Tom Garba
In recent times, industrial strike actions have been adapted as a noble option for settling industrial disputes in Nigeria. This time, it is the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) that is on it again for some obvious reasons that demands urgent national attention. As unionists, the ASUP members in the mentioned polytechnics are in firm solidarity with the National Executive Council’s (NEC) decisions and the terms of bargain with the Federal Government.
Unfortunately, majority of ASUP members in Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa State and perhaps Federal Polytechnic Damaturu, Yobe State doesn’t subscribe to their inclusion in the declared national strike action for the following undeniable reasons:
1. The NEC is firmly aware that Federal Polytechnics Mubi and Damaturu’s academic
calendars have been badly disrupted by insurgency problems since the year 2010.
Consequently, several academic sessions were lost during exiles at the time insurgents overrun the 2 cities. This gross set back should have concerned the NEC decision to exempt these 2 member polytechnics from the scheduled National ASUP strike action.
2. The 2 polytechnics are still recouping from the high death toll of both her students and staff suffered during the insurgency. Besides, the situation is still cloudy and every effort is been made by relevant authorities to rekindle hope for peace in the citizenry by clamping down on insurgents. Instead of joining strike action, these institutions should be assisted to fully recover from hopelessness, particularly among students that have unnecessarily overstayed on campus as a result of frequent disruptions in school calendars.
3. Federal Polytechnic Mubi also suffered huge set back when unknown gunmen killed
dozens of students in off-campus apartments on 1st October, 2012, which led to indefinite closure of the school. Consequently, school academic calendar was again truncated and students were unavoidably delayed from graduating with their mates in other sister Polytechnics across Nigeria. History should have alerted the NEC of ASUP to exempt Federal Polytechnic Mubi, who has been scrawling at snails speed behind sister institutions outside of Mubi region to now meet up with their colleagues in other sister institutions across Nigeria.
4. Prolonged stay of Federal Polytechnic Mubi students at home after the mentioned attack was immediately followed by the fruitless National ASUP strike action of 2013 that spanned for 9 months. Federal Polytechnic Mubi obediently complied in the interest of unionism and at the expense of institutional stability to join the 2013 strike. This time, the NEC is highly expected to understand and fully exempt ASUP members from Mubi Chapter to now recover the loss of academic sessions that resulted from the 2 successive episodes that led to cancellation of an academic session in 2013.
5. Even though, it is painful to state that the National body no longer values the Mubi Chapter as its flesh, perhaps due to the unavoidable non-remittance of monthly dues since the time we became Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in 2014. Otherwise, the NEC should have maintained their slogan ‘Injury to one is Injury to All’ by delegating a group to resolve the serial challenges that undermined the integrity of the local chapter. To add salt to injury, National body couldn’t measure up to its expectation at a time ASUP members experienced despicable agony by trekking from Nigeria to Cameroon bare footed on empty stomachs. No single kobo was given to any ASUP member, while its counterpart the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was dishing out One Hundred Thousand naira (N100,000) only to each of her members in the neighboring Adamawa State University Mubi as a non-remittable relief package.
6. Finally, the Federal Polytechnic Mubi chapter is currently served with a court injunction
that restricts its right to join any industrial action until the matter before the court is formerly arbitrated. Otherwise, any attempt to join such strike actions shall violate the court injunction and therefore becomes contempt of a court order.
Therefore, it will be an unwise act to milk a lactating cow to death, when one still needs to get milk from the same cow at other times. Typically, the fames of both Federal Polytechnic Mubi and Damaturu might only be a mirage, if they still venture into another indefinite strike action.
Therefore, the NEC is highly expected to exercise nobility in her leadership by exempting these polytechnics from the ongoing national strike. Similar noble examples abounds in ASUU strike history and ‘what is good for the goose is also good for the gander’. In addition, dialogue should always be prioritized over calls for mostly fruitless industrial actions that often culminate with little benefits and more renegotiations that incubate additional disputes. Nonetheless, both of the local chapters are in high solidarity with the National ASUP and sincerely wish a collective success to the ongoing struggle to reposition polytechnic education in Nigeria.
United we stand, Divided we fall.
Aluta continua, Victoria acerta,
Long Live ASUP, Long Live Nigeria.