The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike has said negotiations with the leaderships of the striking lecturers in Nigeria’s polytechnics and colleges of education have seen the federal government concede about 90 per cent of the unions’ demands. Wike also faulted claims by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that he had remained insensitive to negotiations with striking polytechnic lecturers.

According to a statement from his media assistant, Simeon Nwakaudu, in Abuja, the minister stated clearly that he that had worked hard to resolve the current labour disagreement between members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) with government.

He noted that on several occasions, he led negotiations with the ASUP and COEASU leaderships to resolve the ongoing strike and hoped that in the coming days, COEASU and ASUP would respond positively to the latest efforts of the federal government.

The minister said these negotiations have led to the federal government’s meeting about 90 per cent of the demands of the unions, adding that only one principal demand is yet to be finalised.

He explained that government had through him placed before the two unions the payment of arrears of Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure (CONTISS-15) put at over N40 billion adding that it has proposed a two installment payments of the money but the unions rejected the proposal.

“Last week, further negotiations were held and there is hope that in the coming days the outstanding issues will be resolved. However, the most important effort of the federal government through the federal ministry of education has been the setting up of the Needs Assessment Committees for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. The two committees are in the process of concluding their reports and have done field assessments. ASUP and COEASU officials participated in the two committees,” he said.

“These reports will lead to the required fundamental improvements in targeted areas that will be exposed by the reports about to be concluded. Based on the reports, the federal government will directly intervene, the way it did to the universities,” he emphasised.

“It goes without saying that this era is the best for the polytechnics and colleges of education in decades. It would recalled that several direct improvements have been made via investments in infrastructure, classrooms, libraries and laboratories in polytechnics in the last three years,” he stressed.

The statement also said that Wike held public town hall meetings in four zones of the country, where federal polytechnics and colleges of education showed their improvements as facilitated by President Goodluck Jonathan in the last three years.

“The federal government has worked round the clock to resolve all issues presented by ASUP and COEASU and it is the hope of Nigerians that the associations will reciprocate by calling off their strikes in the coming days.

“Aside the federal ministry of education, the ministry of labour have also worked hard to hold different levels of further negotiations to resolve the strike,” he added.

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