The Nigerian Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) embarked on an indefinite industrial action on Tuesday, 6 April 2021. ASUP President, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe announced this at a press briefing in Abuja. He also disclosed that academic activities had been shut down in all polytechnics and similar institutions nationwide. This was despite an emergency meeting ASUP had with the Federal Government in Abuja that same Tuesday.
In March, Ezeibe had hinted that the union would embark on an industrial action following what he alleged as the inability of the Federal Government to implement agreements reached with the union before the expiration of the ultimatum issued since March 2020.
According to him, the union’s demands were communicated to the Ministries of Education, Labour and others as well as to state governors but nothing was done about them. He listed the lecturers’ grievances to include non-implementation of the 2014 NEEDS Report and non-release of revitalization fund to the sector despite assurances since 2017.
“Our grievances also include the non-reconstitution of governing councils in federal polytechnics and many state-owned institutions leading to the disruption of governance and administrative processes in the institutions since May 2020. This has also undermined the renegotiation of the union’s 2010 agreement with the government which was unilaterally suspended by the government for over two years now,” he said.
In a similar development, government business in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) headquarters and its agencies was on the same Tuesday crippled by angry workers who embarked on a 3-day warning industrial action initiated to press home their demands, particularly the implementation of the FCT Civil Service Commission Act.
Signed into law in 2018, the FCT Civil Service Commission (Establishment) Act, among others sought to end the appointment of a permanent secretary for the FCTA by the Office of Head of Service of the Federation but rather provide for a Head of Service for the FCTA as obtained in other states. But after three years of enactment, the Act has not been implemented by the FCT administration, a situation that provoked the civil servants under the auspices of Joint Unions Action Committee (JUAC) to start the ongoing industrial action.
Customers and visitors were left stranded at some strategic FCTA agencies, like Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Department of Development Control, Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) while school teachers and health workers have threatened to join the ongoing industrial action.
The workers accused the FCT administration of double-standards, stressing that a government that claimed to be transparent should not continue to retain a permanent secretary deployed from the office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation, in violation of the FCT Civil Service Commission Act, already signed into law three years ago. They alleged that the serving permanent secretary, Olusade Adesola who was deployed from the office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation was occupying an illegal position as far as the Act provided for an FCT Head of Service instead.
FCT JUAC chairman, Matilukoro Korede said the FCT administration had ignored the workers agitation for the implementation of the Act and other issues that border on workers welfare for too long. Korede noted that the industrial action was likely going to be indefinite, until the administration implements the Act, emphasizing that the refusal to implement the law has an adverse effect on workers who cannot progress to the peak of their civil service career.
The labour leader said without the implementation of the Act, FCT workers would continue to remain under administrative limitations that would not allow them grow at par with their counterparts in the states. “It was a huge relief when the National Assembly heeded to the pleas of the staff of the FCT administration, by enacting and passing it into law and had it gazetted (with the consent of Mr. President and the FCT-Civil Service Commission) in 2018. This is three years down the line; the big question is why has it been difficult to implement it still? The FCT-Civil Service Commission was created by an Act of Parliament, just like the Federal Civil Service Commission and those of the States Civil Service Commission, with primary responsibility of appointment,” Korede said.