The Federal Government has commenced implementation of fresh framework to end the strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Barr, Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, the supervising minister of education has disclosed.
This according to the minister follows the decisions reached in a meeting between the striking unions and the minister of labour, Emeka Wogu.
Speaking at a meeting with provosts of all federal colleges of education in Nigeria in Abuja today, Wike regretted that rather than tell Nigerians and their members the truth, COEASU and ASUP have embarked on negative political propaganda to mislead the people.
He said that all the structures of the Federal Government have been activated by President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the strike actions are resolved, because the Federal Government is not happy that the schools are still shut down.
The supervising minister described as untrue the allegation that the education ministry as well as the Federal Government have failed to engaged with the striking unions in order to resolve the conflict.
Wike stressed government’s commitment to pay the over N40billion arrears owed the workers in two, adding that the administration holds the workers in high esteem contrary to their claim of being marginalised.
“There was no time that the Federal Government paid ASUU their entitlements in one fell swoop. We are paying them in instalments. That is the same offer that we have made to the polytechnics and colleges of education staff. We have offered to pay them in two instalments for them to return to class. We have concluded negotiation and we urge ASUP and COEASU to shift ground in the interest of the students and the nation.
“Negative propaganda against the government will not help resolve the problem. These problems were on ground for years and the Jonathan administration has agreed to resolve them. The resolution cannot be in one day.”
The minister pointed out that contrary to the information being circulated about the N200billion released to universities for 2013 under the agreement reached with ASUU, the funds are meant for the revival of infrastructure in schools and not for ASUU members. He said that the funds to be injected in polytechnics and colleges of education will be arrived at after the adoption of the Needs Assessment reports that are being concluded.
He appealed to the provosts of the federal colleges of education to serve as mediators to help in resolving the outstanding issues, since the Federal Government has tackled over 90percent of the issues raised.
Earlier, Dr Nwanze Ignatius Ezeom, chairman, Committee of Provosts, urged the minister of education to work towards the resolution of the strike action. He said that the education sector has benefitted from several developmental projects initiated by the Jonathan administration, adding that returning the staff to the classrooms will help the country.