The refusal of the Federal Government to meet the demands the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) and the consequent shutdown of the Nation’s public Polytechnics and Colleges of Education for months now is worrisome.
The blame for the prolongation of the strikes and the consequential suffering of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education students lies on the shoulders of the President Jonathan government. We urge students, parents, workers and concerned members of the public to join the two unions in their struggle to save public education.
In direct contradiction of his middle name “goodluck”, President Jonathan’s administration has meant nothing but BADLUCK to the entire education sector, students and workers alike.
Under President Jonathan’s capitalist government, the fortunes of Nigeria’s education sector has seriously nosedived with over 40% of youth illiterate. The Federal government has not hidden its complete disregard and disdain for the welfare of academic workers of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education as well as the long-suffering students of both sub-sectors of public education.
ASUP has been on strike for about nine months cumulatively while COEASU strike has lasted for three months.
To us in ERC, the demands of both unions can be met in a few days if we have a responsible and responsive government. Unfortunately, President Jonathan’s government and indeed all the governments at State and local levels are far from being responsible. In actuality, they are all anti-poor capitalist governments that defend the interests of the rich against that of the mass majority of Nigerians who are poor.
One of the reasons why government does not care if public schools are shut for eternity as a result of strikes is because the rich and the politicians do not patronise public schools. Using looted funds, they often send their children either to expensive private schools in Nigeria, Europe or the United States.
The ERC believes that only a government whose office holders live as the masses and whose children attend the same schools as the working masses can be proactive in preventing strikes through prompt implementation of demands and agreements.
If the Supervising Minister of Education Nyesom Wike for instance has his children schooling in any public Polytechnic or College of Education in Nigeria, it may be difficult for him to maintain the same kind of rougish and provocative attitude with which he has been conducting negotiation with ASUP and COEASU.
However, this kind of pro-working people government is impossible under capitalism. It is only under socialism that we can have a government that fully and truly represents the vast majority of the population.
We hold that the demands of ASUP and COEASU are genuine and if seriously implemented can help produce a well trained manpower that can enhance Nigeria’s technological development and also quality teachers that can help to revive Nigeria’s ailing public education system.
We call on ASUP and COEASU to unite in the struggle to save public education and most importantly to name a day for a nationwide mass protest and demonstration. It does not pay to struggle alone. United action is the most potent way to defeat government’s divide and rule tactics and also to quickly compel the government to meet demands.
We use this medium to call on both striking unions to start immediate mobilization of their members and Nigerian students to the street to protest against the nonchalant attitude of the government.
We call on the leadership of the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS)and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) not to sit on the fence but to mobilize Nigerian students in support of the striking unions.
We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as pro-labour orgamisations like the Joint Action Front (JAF) to declare solidarity actions in support of the demands of ASUP and COEASU.
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