The staff of the Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, have staged a peaceful protest against alleged non-payment of their salaries for 13 months by the state government.
The workers, who gathered under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Non-academic Staff Union and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics, barricaded the entrance into the Edo State Government House on Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
According to Punch, they demanded an audience with Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State, and vowed to continue the protest until their grievances were addressed.
The protesting workers decried what they described as the alleged non-implementation of the 65 years retirement age for personnel of the polytechnic and absence of a pension scheme since 2002.
They also lamented that the institution had allegedly been starved of funds, while it lacked basic infrastructure for teaching and learning.
Obaseki had in August 2017, inaugurated a committee of inquiry to investigate the management of the polytechnic in the areas of funding, admission and staffing, as part of efforts to revamp the institution.
While receiving the report of the committee, led by Rose Egonmwan, in November 2017, Obaseki had said, “We do need a state-owned polytechnic in Edo. But it should function the way it ought to. We need to have the right people and the requisite faculties to deliver quality education, so that our children will have right training.”
But Paul Aziegbemhin, the chairman of ASUP in the institution, said the workers had yet to see any improvement in their welfare.
Aziegbemhin said, “We have not heard anything from the government so far. We have been on this issue since May 2, 2017. We met with the governor and he said he would pay before December 25, 2017.
“As we speak, there has not been any payment. So, why will people not be restive? If we are not attended to by the government, we will come back tomorrow. We will resume and close work here at the Government House.”
Dele Okomayin, the chairman of SSANIP in the Polytechnic, and his NASU counterpart, Charles Omokaro, said the alleged failure of the government to pay the outstanding benefits had subjected the affected workers to hardship.
Okomayin said, “Right now, most of us find it difficult to feed. Most of us have taken our children away from private to public schools.
“Even in the public schools, we find it very difficult to buy the things our children need. We lost one of our members in May 2017 and he is still in the mortuary; he has not been buried because of this financial problem.
“We are begging the governor to fulfil his promise. We are begging the governor to include us in the bailout funds, so that the students can enjoy the benefits of education.”