The students of the Federal Polytechnic in Ado-Ekiti (ADO POLY) has frowned to the recently suspended 2 months strike of the institution. The angry students described the strike as a plot to waste their time. The school being reopened after 2 months seems to have achieved nothing, but wasted the students time. TEMITOPE YAKUBU reports.
LIFE has returned to the Federal Polytechnic in Ado-Ekiti (ADO POLY) after a two-month workers’ strike. The institution was shut following allegation of corruption against management. It was closed down two weeks to the semester examination, causing students’ anguish.
The workers’ unions accused the Rector, Dr Theresa Akande, of mismanaging the internally-generated revenue (IGR). The unions, comprising the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) accused management of mismanaging N250 million since 2014.
They also accused the rector of non-implementation of the Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Scale (CONTISS) 15, saying it amounted to “gross insensitivity” for management to turn a blind eye to the plight of over 500 workers without portfolio in the school.
According to ASUP chairman Tunji Owoeye, management deliberately stopped the implementation of CONTISS 15 as directed by the Federal Government. He said: “We want to tell the world that the workers are being marginalised by the rector. We will continue to protest until the school adopts the parity policy of a single system.
“We have been agitating for the implementation of starting point of salary scale, which is CONTISS 8 in the polytechnic. When CONTISS 15 was introduced in 2009, only the senior staff benefited because people in CONTISS 12 and above were promoted, while those on CONTISS 11 and below were marginalised.”
The rector denied the allegations, saying there was no substance in them. The Federal Government, she said, had started looking into the issues.
The unions, the rector said, did not communicate their positions to management before embarking on the indefinite strike, adding that management has been meeting with them on the way out.
Dr Akande said: “The Federal Government has set up a Presidential Panel to look into these issues. The fact that I am still the rector despite all their allegations shows that there is no substance in them. The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the agency supervising polytechnic education in the country, and the Federal Ministry of Education are looking into the migration issue because it is not a local issue. It affects all federal polytechnics in the country.”
The Deputy Registrar for Information and Protocol, Mr Adeyemi Adejolu, described the unions’ complaints as “old allegations packaged anew”.
He said: “The workers’ unions have petitioned the Minister of Education, Department of State Service (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and other regulatory agencies. Government is already looking into their allegations. This is not enough reason to shut down the school.”
CAMPUSLIFE gathered that the workers suspended the action after meeting with representatives of the Federal Ministry of Labour and management to sign an agreement.
ASUP, in a statement signed by Owoeye, directed the lecturers to resume last Monday. Also, SSANIP and NASUP members held congresses to discuss the development and aligned with ASUP’s position.
To most students, the workers’ action was needless. They said there were other means to channel their grievances without closing the school. Students said they did not want to experience a strike again.
For Helen Kotila, chairperson of the Lagos Female Hall of Residence, the disruption in academic activities had negative impact on students. She said many would have forgotten all they read for the exam before the school was shut.
Helen, a Higher National Diploma (HND) II Quantity Surveying student, said: “Disruptions in academics usually discourage students from learning. It is not surprising that during strikes, most students are idle and some are inclined towards immoral activities rather than studying. Many have forgotten everything they read and this can negatively affect their academic performances.”
Olaide Oladayo, an HND 1 student, urged management and the workers’ unions to always consider the impact on students before they disagree.
She said: “The staff unions should devise good means other than strike to resolve issues.
Strike should not always be the tool. This is because of the negative effects strikes have on students and the entire academic community.
“There should be effective communication between workers and management. Staff welfare and other necessary demands should be unanimously tackled by the management and workers’ unions. Dialogue should be adopted while resolving conflict.”
Tunde Olorungbotemi, HND 1 Accountancy student, believes that reopening the school during the festive period will put students in danger. He said the strike was a plot to waste students’ time, wondering why the workers took the action when the government was attending to their demands.
“The management and workers’ unions are like electric poles. They know they are going nowhere, but they have wasted students’ precious time and toiled with our future. Reopening the school has put our lives at risk during this festive period. I am upbeat about the resumption but we have students that will want to celebrate Christmas with their family members,” Tunde said.
Rodiat Lawal, an HND 1 Food Technology student, described the workers’ action as a “waste of time and resources”.
She said: “The strike was just a waste of time and resources. It really affected the students academically, because many of us didn’t have time to read at home. This may result in low performance in the coming examination.
“It would be good if management and workers embrace dialogue and have a conclusive meeting on their disagreement to prevent strike. Similar strike in 2015 affected the school calendar seriously and we are still battling with it.”
Oladapo Ayowale, an Electrical and Electronics student is worried that the school calendar is no longer stable.
The student praised the parties for finding a common ground that led to the resumption, but called on workers to review their conflict resolution mechanism.
“My advice for management and workers is to allow dialogue to dictate direction whenever they disagree. They should know that students’ future is at stake when they close down the school and send us home. We don’t want strike again. There should be ways to resolve future disagreements between them, without embarking on strike,” he said.
Akinkunmi Okanrende, a Surveying and Geo-informatics student, who is presently on industrial training, also described the strike as a waste of time.
He said: “They have used the strike to waste students’ time, because the workers’ demands were not met before the school resumed. We should ask them why was the shut down in the first place. The strike has given the school a bad image. Admission seekers now see it as an institution where strike is included in their academic calendar yearly.
“It would be good if management is open to workers and if workers are willing to dialogue. This way, students would be saved from the needless strike that is making their future uncertain.”
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.