ASUU thwarted effort to abort strike – CAN

faaa can president dr samson ayokunle
faaa can president dr samson ayokunle

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Samson Ayokunle, said on Monday that the nationwide strike embarked upon by the university lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would have been avoided if the lecturers had listened to religious leaders that were making efforts to proffer solutions to the problem.

Ayokunle, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2022 first quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), in Abuja, on Monday, with the theme, ‘Education for Peace and Nation Building,’ said that, if ASUU had exercised a little more patient, the issues would have been resolved amicably without industrial disharmony.

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He said the religious leaders had approached ASUU leaders on the contentious issues before the nationwide strike pleading for time to persuade Federal Government to implement the agreements, but before they could conclude consultations with the Federal Government and other stakeholders, ASUU declared a strike and withdrew their services nationwide.

‘I am not pleased enough with ASUU because they were impatient. Myself (CAN President) and Co-chairman of NIREC (Sultan) and others went to plead with them. Instead of them to be patient with us to know how far we could go in our efforts, they went ahead with their planned strike while our intervention was going on. To me, that was not respectful enough and that was the reason we left them,’ he stated.

Rev Ayokunle who is Co-chairman of NIREC challenged the Federal Government and ASUU to find a lasting solution to the ongoing strike so that students of public universities can return to school, expressing fears that desperate politicians might take advantage of the idleness of the students to use them for thuggery and other negative purposes.

‘For how long can we continue to allow the impasse between ASUU and the government to continue? Our children are the ones suffering for it and our future because our future are the children. How can they be playing with the future of these children like this?

‘The time to recruit our youths from Churches and Mosque has come. I want to plead with us to appeal to our wards not to allow politicians to use them as thugs as election periods approaches.

‘We need to prevail on them not to avail themselves to be used for such dirty assignments. We should intensify prayers both in the mosque and churches for better leadership in 2023.

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‘As religious leaders, we should advise our members not to vote names, political parties, but vote integrity and character. This is what will give us a task-oriented leadership that will move our nation forward.’

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Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, who is also co-chairman of NIREC, raised concerns over the bloodletting in the country and other parts of the world, saying that religious leaders have a role in ensuring peace and stability.

‘We have so many problems in Nigeria and the rest of the world, and we are concerned as religious leaders because innocent lives are being lost by the activities of bandits and terrorists in Nigeria. We have to always speak against violence.’

Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, charged NIREC to continue to appeal to ASUU to call off its ongoing nationwide strike for the sake of a safe and prosperous nation.

Mustapha who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (GSO), Maurice Mbaeri, maintained that with the various situations that keep arising in the country, there was a need to deepen political and religious collaborations to build a country free from prejudice, intolerance, violence and other vices.

‘The education of our children is very vital and the need to continually keep them in school is key to moulding them into great leaders of tomorrow. We need to continue to teach them to have a sound and healthy mind so they can stay away from heinous crime and violence, which we are experiencing today in this country.’

Earlier, Executive Secretary of NIREC, Fr Prof Cornelius Omonokhua, in his remarks, noted that a functional educational system was imperative to building a healthy society free of the various forms of conflicts. He added that no religion forbids education in arts, science or technology.

‘If the youths are well trained and informed, they would be conscious of human rights and resist those who employ them to fight unjustly for the selfish benefits of those who finance and promote violence. They would know that peace is a virtue that is deeply entrenched in Christianity and Islam.

‘For the youths to promote the dignity of life, they need dialogue at all levels and in all ramifications. In the end, the well-educated person with a reasonable job would promote nation building because he has something to look up to.’

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