Striking lecturers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) have gotten assurance from Federal Government to pay N20.4 billion salary arrears owed the lecturers.
The information came to the fore on Tuesday, in Abuja when the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, held a joint meeting with executive members of ASUP and the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS).
He however said as soon as modalities for the payment are agreed upon between both parties, the payment will be effected.
He said the CONTISS salary structure being agitated for by the union had been approved and also included in the 2014 budget.
He said the CONTISS issue had brought the resolution of three out of four of the demands being made by the lecturers.
Wike at the meeting noted that the only outstanding issue yet to be resolved was the release of the white papers of visitation panel to the polytechnics.
He however said delay in the release of the white papers was not peculiar to the polytechnics sector, adding that government was working on it.
It will be recalled that the union and government had met in 2013 at the commencement of the strike where ASUP tabled 13 demands to the Federal Government.
Both parties, however agreed on tackling four out of the 13 demands that could be resolved in the short term.
Some of the demands raised by the union include setting up a Needs Assessment Committee for the polytechnics, implementation of the CONTISS salary structure, constitution of governing councils for the schools and the release of the white paper.
Wike said government did not at any time say there were no funds for the Needs Assessment Committee to begin its work, but the delay was due to the strike.
He advised the union to state the facts especially when addressing the public as government was making concerted efforts to strengthen its educational system at all levels.
Wike noted that the aim of Tuesday’s meeting was to identify grey areas that could be addressed for all to move forward.
He therefore appealed to the union to call off the industrial action in the interest of the country and the future of the students.
Earlier, the National President of ASUP, Chibuzo Asomugha, said the union was not on strike for its own selfish interest.
Asomugha said the lecturers were fighting to strengthen the polytechnics, improve on the quality of students and give them the place they deserved.
At the meeting also, National President of NAPS, Ogbonnaya Sunday, alleged that the striking lecturers were not fighting for the welfare of students, especially the issue of dichotomy between the university and polytechnic.
Sunday, who said the students had resolved to “tow the path of peace and dialogue, appealed to government to ensure a speedy resolution of all contending issues.
He said, “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers” as students were at the receiving end of the strike because many had taken to crime and other vices for lack of gainful engagement.