The Federal Polytechnic, Bida, chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) is up in arms against the management of the institution over allegations of misappropriation and other malpractices.
The Rector, Abubakar Abdul Dzukogi, has called the union’s bluff, claiming its members were afraid of verification, report JUSTINA ASISHANA (Minna) and ADENIKE ADEYEMO (ND II, Mass Communication, Bida Poly).
The management of the Federal Polytechnic, Bida, in Niger State and the institution’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) are locked in a tussle over allegations of misappropriation of funds, suspension of some negotiated allowances as well as alleged underhand dealings.
Accusations and counter accusations have been flying between the two groups.
On the one hand, ASUP accused the Rector, Abubakar Abdul Dzukogi, of spending a huge amount of money on maintaining his car and sponsoring a faceless group.
The Union claimed Dzukogi changed the windscreen of his Peugeot car with N1 million, which they said trippled the price in the market.
Defending himself, Dzukogi said the windscreen did not cost that amount, adding that the allegation was baseless.
He challenged anyone with proof that he changed the windscreen with N1 million to come forward with it. He also said he had receipts for the repairs and the purchase of the vehicle which cost N11 million.
“The receipt is there; the windscreen and workmanship cost less than N100,0000. The receipt for the purchase is available. However, a committee has been set up to address the issue. I am a man of integrity. I have held various positions before becoming the Rector. I will never do anything to soil my name,” he said.
Dzukogi said the whole outcry started when the management ordered that all workers should submit their original credentials for verification. He claimed that the allegations were part of the antics of ASUP to disrupt the verification process because most of them were unqualified and feared the exercise may affect them.
“The union leadership has not been comfortable with the ongoing verification exercise by the management to ascertain the qualifications of staff. The management has motivated members of staff but everyone must work for his salary,” he said.
However, ASUP Chairman, Comrade Umar Saganuwan, said its members were not afraid of the exercise, alleging that the Rector only said that to cover his track.
He said the union’s grouse had to do with unlawful and arbitrary suspension of some negotiated allowances, which it demanded should be reinstated immediately. He alleged that the Rector sponsored a group to harass ASUP members because of their demands.
“Our stance incidentally led to reprisals of ignoble antics by management to undermine the unity of members and discredit the leadership of the union; some of which involved the sponsorship of a faceless group called ‘Integrity group,’” he said.
He claimed the Integrity Group was antagonising the union Leadership and disrupting its activities.
Efforts by The Nation to meet some of the members of the “Integrity Group” proved abortive as they were not ready to speak to our correspondent.
However, the students have defended the Rector, saying he is not guilty of the accusations being levelled against him. They claim ASUP was looking for an opportunity to embark on strike.
Students’ Union President, Comrade Adeyeye Olugbenga, who is also President, National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS), said the Rector was not guilty of the accusations.
He added that certain allowances were normally given to workers before the recession started, but because of the economic downturn, they were being paid half of their allowances.
He added that workers involved in the Directorate Continuing Education programme used to be paid some allowances at the end of the session. But due to scarcity of funds, he said the payments were been delayed, which must have fuelled the accusations against the Rector.
However a source at the management level said the Institution paid some allowances last week to some workers while the remaining outstanding allowances would soon be paid.
The source claimed that the whole issue started based of mistrust between the management and the ASUP, adding that moves are being made to settle the impasse.
As at the time of filing this report, the management was holding a closed door meeting with ASUP leaders to resolve the crisis.
ASUP Chairman told The Nation that he would reveal what transpired afterwards.
He said both parties were trying to find a common ground to resolve the issue.
He however said the Union is insistent on the payment of backlog of all allowances while members await the report of the committee set up to probe the allegations of financial mismanagement.