THE Federal Government has come out to refuted the statement made by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) that it has neglected Polytechnic Education in the country, saying vocational and technical education has remained the cornerstone of the ongoing transformation in the education.

Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, while reacting to the claims of abandonment by the ASUP President, Mr Chibuzor Asomugha, said government had been in talks with the leadership of the union on how to resolve its protracted strike.

Wike said only on Monday this week, he was joined by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, to engage ASUP in a fruitful discussion, explaining that only one issue, which is the release of the White Paper on Visitation Panels, was remaining to be trashed out.

The minister, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, said it was not true that government had abandoned the striking lecturers or the polytechnic education as alleged by Asomugha.

ASUP had embarked on strike on April 17, 2013, after several warning strikes for the government to properly fund polytechnic education as well as address the disparity between the polytechnics and university graduates in the country.

National President of ASUP, Mr Asomugha, had in an interview he granted, lamented that government was killing polytechnic education in Nigeria as several meetings held with government to ensure re-opening of polytechnics yielded no fruits.

He argued that the lack of interest by government to implement its promises for polytechnics to be re-opened was a deliberate ploy to deny students of polytechnics access to education.

But the minister recalled concerted efforts made by the government to resolve the impasse for the polytechnics to be re-opened for academic programmes in view of the importance Federal Government attached to the sector.

Just before the Christmas in December, 2013, the minister said he met with Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Polytechnics with the Chairman of the Committee, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, in attendance on how to end the strike.

Wike had revealed on the occasion that the Federal Government has met over 80 per cent of the demands of the ASUP, with the release of the white-paper the only thing left to be done.

The minister noted that the Federal Government has started the process of paying the N20.8billion arrears owed polytechnic staff, pointing out that the funds will be released as soon as the procedures are concluded.

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