(By Abdulrahman Agboola)
“It is disheartening to note that the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education are warming up for another showdown with the Federal Government over palpable problems confronting the subsectors. It could be vividly recalled that the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education resumed for academic activities thirteen weeks ago after a prolonged strike action over issues bothering on welfare of workers, infrastructural decay and lopsided educational policies responsible for the discriminations against the products of the system“.
The Federal Ministry of Education is today headed by a veteran that rose through the ranks in the education sector in Nigeria. Thou the assumption of office of Alh Ibrahim Shekarau as the Minister of Education was greeted with mixed feelings among Nigerians, owing to the errors of his administration at the education angle during his reign as Governor of Kano State, many optimists still described him as a capable personality with ability to resolve numerous challenges confronting the sector and to bring succor to both the Students and Workers.
The year 2014 has witnessed depression among the Students as a result of overstretched industrial actions by the workers in the leading tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The Universities were shut down for more than six months before the interventions of eminent Nigerians that negotiated truce between the Federal Government and the Unions in the Universities which eventually led to a reasonable resolution of the disharmony but the Unions are still struggling with the grey areas in the terms of agreement with the Government.
It is disheartening to note that the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education are warming up for another showdown with the Federal Government over palpable problems confronting the subsectors. It could be vividly recalled that the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education resumed for academic activities thirteen weeks ago after a prolonged strike action over issues bothering on welfare of workers, infrastructural decay and lopsided educational policies responsible for the discriminations against the products of the system.
The Minister of Education inherited the crises from his predecessor, staked his reputations before the Unions during negotiations where he obliged them to grant him benefit of doubt and offered a three months moratorium to solve their grievances as a term for resumption. The three months in quote ended on 15thOctober, 2014 with the Minister not living up to his promise as he neither met officially with the unions within the period nor made moves to allay their fears.
The issues in contentions are the discriminatory recognition of HND Certificates and nonpayment of salary arrears owing to about forty billion naira. The leadership of the National Association of Polytechnic Students led by the Senate President, Comrade Salahudeen Luqman is already making frantic efforts to engage the Minister of Education to facilitate the payment of the arrears to forestall another strike action capable of derailing the academic progress of the Students.
The issue in contention is the failure of the Minister of Education to fulfill his freely made promise to the polytechnics three months ago. It is really discerning to the eyes that a personality of the caliber of Alh Ibrahim Shekarau who is regarded as an intellectually sound academician with opportunity to have served as an Executive Governor of Kano State for eight years showcased the trait of a weakling in handling his opportunity as a cabinet Minister.
It is really appealing to the intellectuals in government to showcase exemplary stance in discharging their duties to the people for the sake of humanity in order to repose the confidence of the governed in the system. The attitude of the Minister of Education towards the aggrieved Unions in the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education is unpleasing to keen watchers of events in the education sector as the Minister has further exposed the double standard of President Jonathan administration.
It could be recalled that Kano State Government under Alh Ibrahim Shekarau witnessed serious condemnation by Kano indigenes on allegations of poor performance, window dressing and dubious tendencies, which led to the failure of the Minister to install his favorite as Kano State Governor at the 2011 gubernatorial election. The present administration of Kano State led by a performer per excellence Engr Dr Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso has gained the confidence of the masses to the extent of displaying open loyalty to his administration by their solidarity even as he cross carpeted to ruling party to opposition party.
The high level of anxiety currently at fore in the Polytechnics as a result of the resolutions of the Unions to resume the suspended strike soonest as a result of neglect and refusal of government to pay the salary arrears before 15th October, 2014 as agreed three months ago. The Minister of Education must be pressurized by the concerned stakeholders to immediately facilitate a meeting with the aggrieved Unions and expedite actions on the payment of their arrears.
As a man laid his bed, so shall he sleep is a maxim that justifies the appointment of seeming political bigwigs as Ministers from States opposed to the continuity of President Jonathan in Office beyond 29th May, 2014. The appointments of Ministers by Mr President for the purpose of mobilizing the electorates to support his continuity at the expense and variance with the responsibilities of manning the Ministries for effective service delivery is a serious breach of trust and lack of good will which must be recorded as a bad precedent for the sake of posterity.
As the preparation for another transition in 2015 is in high gear, the Country needs decorum in the Educational Institutions against the attendant effects of the double standard of President Jonathan whose administration succeeded in keeping the Students away from learning due to prolonged industrial actions. It is productive to resonate that the Minister of Education will rise to the demands of the Polytechnics and College of Education and avail this opportunity to redeem his dented image before Nigerians in order to restore his lost glory.
Comrade AbdulRahman Agboola
Mass Action for Good Governance and Grassroots Development in Nigeria
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”