Seven months after the Federal Government dissolved the governing councils of all the 17 federal polytechnics in the country, it has not constituted a replacement for any of them.
This development, according to Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), is not only condemnable and inimical to development but also totally runs foul of extant laws guiding the operations of polytechnics in the country.
National President of ASUP, Dr Anderson Ezeibe, gave this position at weekend in an exclusive interview with Nigerian Tribune.
He said the country could not afford to continue to run its polytechnics without governing councils, which are the highest decision-making organs on non-academic matters for polytechnics.
Newsmen reports that the Federal Government had since May 2020 dissolved all the councils of 17 FG-owned polytechnics after the expiration of their five-year tenures without replacing them till date.
Ezeibe said aside that this action is tantamount to Federal Government running foul of its own laws, it also creates a serious gap in proper governance in the nation’s federal polytechnics.
He explained that the action had, among others, led to the inability of various polytechnics to complete their appraisal and also to appoint principal officers such as rectors and bursars to replace those whose tenures have ended.
He, therefore, asked the Federal Government not only, to as a matter of urgency, constitute new sets of governing councils for all the concerned institutions in the interest of good governance and best practices as obtainable in developed countries, but also to give adequate attention to the development of education at all levels.
While also decrying what he called huge infrastructural deficit in the nation’s educational institutions including polytechnics, Ezeibe said both the federal and state governments this new year would need to pump in adequate money to education and also perform their regulatory and supervisory roles very well.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education is not living up with its roles, urging it to wake up.
He said allocating over N500 billion for education in the 2021 national budget would not translate to meaningful impact in the sector not only because the amount in value terms is very small because of low purchasing power of naira, but also when there is no proper utilisation of the funds by the users.
He said the events of last year particularly COVID-19 pandemic, which is still raging, really exposed the huge infrastructural gap in the nation’s educational institutions and also negatively affected the sector generally.
He said both the federal and state governments would need to pay closer attention to the issues that concern education sector, noting that it is absurd that the NEEDs Assessment Survey which shows the rottenness in the nation’s public polytechnics and how to address the decadence is yet to be implemented six years after.
When asked about the latest on ASUP agitations from the Federal Government and its threat to embark on industrial action, he said the government had not met yet the union demands.
He gave reference to non-implementation of the NEEDS assessment report, non-release of revitalisation funds, non-appointment of governing councils, non-payment of arrears on their minimum wage and non-reinstatement of eight union officials sacked by the management of their institutions over their alleged roles in the previous union’s nationwide strike.
He said the National Executive Council of ASUP would review all these issues at their next quarterly meeting before April to take a stand on them but as of today, they are not on strike.