Thousands of students of the Kaduna Polytechnic yesterday protested over the seeming intractable stand-off between the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) branch and the management of the institution, sealing all the entrances to the institution and giving the Federal Government 48 hours to take action on the issue.
Staff and management of the institution were barred by the students from entering the school premises as the students insisted that the school remain locked up until the Federal Government intervenes by calling off the strike and ordering ASUP to resume academic activities.
Some of the students came with mattresses to the gate of the institution to sleep, indicating that they would not open it for any worker or the management until the problem is resolved, threatening to “wage war” if the government does not intervene.
Officers of the State Security Service (SSS) who came to address the issue were denied access to the school while those who gained access were not given audience because the students referred to them as bankers and not SSS. “If truly they are SSS operatives, let them address us before the media,” the students said. Also during the protest, the students lamented that the Federal Government had neglected them, adding that if it had intervened from the beginning of the crisis, it wouldn’t have lingered on.
“Is the management bigger than the Federal Government? Is ASUP bigger than the Federal Government? So if the Federal Government believes in the transformation they have been talking about, let them intervene with immediate effect, else, there will be war in Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna State and Nigeria,” they said. Placards with different inscriptions which include: “When two elephants fight, the grass suffers”, “Enough is enough, we want the school opened”, “President Jonathan should prevail on management and union to make peace for the best interest, else...”, “The idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” were displayed by the students who kept shouting, “We want the school opened, we are tired of staying at home.”
Speaking on behalf of the students, the Vice President, Students Union Government (SUG) of the College of Science and Technology (CST) in the polytechnic, Comrade Ibrahim Omotosho, said the management and ASUP were playing with their future.
According to him, over 45,000 students of the institution have been on strike for about six months now, and many of the students died in the post-election crisis while some could not go for their national youth service due to the strike.
“We have refused to engage in any form of riot or protest since the crisis started in January because we know our school is located in a volatile area, so that some people outside the school will not hijack the situation and take it as an opportunity to cause chaos in the state and that was why we called on the students to maintain absolute decorum but now our silence has been taken for granted,” he stressed.
According to him, they had met with several authorities including Kaduna State SSS, Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, management of the polytechnic and ASUP.
“We told them we are not going back on our action until they resume work”, he said. He added that they were told that without the white paper, they cannot resume academic activities.
“We don’t know why government is delaying the white paper, we have given them a 48-hour ultimatum after which we will block not only the entrances but all roads that lead to Kaduna Polytechnic because we have exercised enough patience,” he said.
He appealed to President Goodlusck Jonathan to start the transformation he promised from Kaduna Polytechnic by ordering ASUP and the school management to come to a consensus and go back to work with immediate effect.
Addressing the students outside the school gate, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Alhaji Masud Adamu Kazaure accompanied by the Director, Academic Planning, Kaduna Polytechnic, Ambassador M.J. Mohammed, commended the students for their patience and urged them to continue to be patient.
He said he had spoken with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, saying he promised to get across to him before the end of yesterday.
He assured the students that something would be done before the end of yesterday.