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Nigeria: Uproar Over Closure of Bauchi Polytechnic

| May 24, 2012 More

Bauchi โ€” Fracas between teachers and students of the Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi (ATAP) and Bauchi State government reached its peak Monday when government ordered the closure of the school.

Students’ academic activities were halted when they woke up to a notice ordering them to vacate the campuses with no resumption date mentioned.

At the heart of the disagreement is the decision of the state government to relocate the School of Management and Applied Sciences (SMAS), located at Ran road to the main campus at Wuntin Dada to pave way for the construction of a N2.5 billion specialist hospital.

Government had in April, issued the relocation order, though with no provision made to accommodate the students on the relocated site. The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sani Malami, had then stated that 90 per cent of structures of the school were not habitable for human beings and that was why government ordered its demolition.

But teachers under the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and students under the National Union of Bauchi State Students (NUBASS) said they would not relocate as the facilities at the main campus would not cater for even 1,000 students talkless of about 10,000 that are to be relocated.

They, therefore asked government to provide four examination halls with a capacity for 800 students, 20 classrooms of about 180 capacity each and a new library to accommodate not less than 1,500 students before the relocation exercise.

Negotiations between government and all stakeholders began with the government seeming to agree to start building of classrooms to accommodate the students so that some courses do not lose accreditation. But it was later observed that there was no sign of improvement at the relocated site to show any commitment.

Rather government, after a meeting with the governing council of the polytechnic, announced the closure of all three campuses of the polytechnic to avoid breakdown of law and order.

Now, NUBASS is threatening to organise a one million man march by Monday, while the Joint Action Committee of the Academic and Non-Academic Staff of all tertiary institutions has also issued a 21-day ultimatum at the end of which it would embark on strike if government does not rescind its decision.

Accusing fingers are also pointing at the Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Aminu, who is believed to have misrepresented earlier agreements with government.

Secretary of the Joint Action Committee of the Academic and Non-Academic Staff of all tertiary institutions in Bauchi State, Abdullahi Yalwa, told Daily Trust that, “Government summoned a meeting of all stakeholders in order to resolve the matter amicably. We were over 21 at the meeting. At the end of the meeting, teachers and students of the school said they were not against government plan to build the hospital but they wanted to be provided classes and accommodation in the places they wanted them to move to which is part of the criteria for their accreditation.

Yalwa also said government pledged to open an account with N100 million to facilitate the immediate building of classrooms and accommodation at Wuntin Dada, but before that it ordered the contractors to commence work at the school without informing teachers or students of the school.

“You can go to the school. You will see for yourself only two lecture halls under construction by the ETF not the state government. The project was started two years ago and it will not be ready in the next six months. Even if it is completed it will not be enough for the students of the School of Engineering,” he said.

Following the closure of the school, students staged a protest, setting bonfires along the busy Jos-Bauchi road. Police later dispersed the crowd with teargas.

Some of the students said they would remain on campus as they did not have money to transport themselves back home.

One of the students, Ismail Usman Dodo said, “it is disheartening that the government will just ask students to pack without considering the implications on academic activities.”

Abdulhamid Mohammed who said he lives in Onitsha said he is presently stranded.

“I just saw a notice that we should vacate. It is very sad. Other students are concerned about how the sudden closure would affect their academic activities. I do not even have the transport fare to go back home.”

Mufa’atu Ahmed, another student, said, “this sudden closure will affect us seriously because some of us were just preparing to write examination and now we don’t know our fate.”

But government is saying it is the teachers and students who did not respect it.

Chief Press Secretary to Governor Isa Yuguda, Ishola Michael Adeyemi, said the three schools were shut down to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage to cause violence.

Adeyemi said: “The students did not respect the agreement that the project would be carried out in phases. What we intended to do is to move them in phases when we completed certain number of classrooms. Then we would take over where they left but they refused.”

Category: Bauchi State News

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