By Uche Amunike
The president of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, (ASUP), Mr Anderson Ezeibe, Wednesday, has confirmed that the association is in court with the federal government to address the issue of the appointment of five unqualified rectors of newly established polytechnics in the country.
Speaking during the 100th National Executive Council meeting held at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo state, Ezeibe described the appointment as been against the Polytechnic Act of 2019.
He said, ‘the Union is already in court with the Federal government on the matter.
‘We have already served them, the appointment authority, that is the presidency, through substituted means in one of the national dailies.’
‘And we have gotten an order of court to serve them by substituted means and of course to join these five persons appointed as rectors into these polytechnics’.
The ASUP president who faulted the federal government over the appointments, explained that being qualified as a rector required that the person must be a Chief lecturer with at least, a minimum of five years experience from any of the polytechnics.
‘Recently, the federal government announced into existence, six new federal polytechnics in Cross River State, Oyo, Plateau, Benin and Borno States.’
‘Unfortunately, five out of the six rectors that were appointed into these newly established polytechnics are neither Chief lecturers, nor from any polytechnic in Nigeria.’
‘What it means is that they have fallen short of the qualifications required to be in those offices’, Ezeibe said.
He also appealed to the Edo state government to pay five months salary arrears owed the workers of Edo state Polytechnic, Usen.
Deputy governor of Edo state, Phillips Shaibu, who was represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Jimoh Ijegbai averred that the government was in the know of the lingering labour issues at the Edo Polytechnic while assuring that adequate steps were already being taken to address it.
The rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Mustapha Zubair, urged the union to choose dialogue in pursuing its agitation, saying that the recently concluded strike action by the union yielded positive results following the release of N15 billion naira for the development of polytechnics in Nigeria.
‘The appointment of the Rectors for these polytechnics are in violation of provisions of the Federal Polytechnics (Amendment) Act, 2019 as five out of the six new rectors are not qualified for the provisions, having fallen short of the requirements captured in Section 8, 2 (a) 1 of the Act.’
‘A rundown of the profiles of the beneficiaries of this latest act of impunity shows that five out of the six persons do not fit into the requirements of the law for the appointment of Rectors in Federal Polytechnics in the Country.’
The Union regretted that the government through officials of the Federal Ministry of Education, has become principal violators of the laws governing the operations of Nigeria polytechnics.
‘This latest assault is despite the contents of a recent ruling of the National Industrial Court in Abuja, where the provisions of the Federal Polytechnics (Amendment) Act 2019 was affirmed by the court and the Federal Ministry of Education and her officials undertaken to observe the provisions in totality,’ Ezeibe said.
He stated that ASUP had notified the Federal Ministry of Education to adhere to the provisions of the law in this appointment process over a month ago during a similar issue with case Number NICN/ABJ/12/2020 which involved ASUP, the Attorney General of the Federation, Ministry of education and five others.
He faulted the fact that despite that position taken by the court in that case, the Federal government still embarked in what he described as ‘a naked display of impunity’.
Ezeibe added that ‘This unfortunate development however underlines the essence of our union’s current engagement with the government as we are determined to reverse this ugly trend’.