From From Gabriel Dike, Fred Ezeh, Adanna Nnamani, Abuja, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, Sunday Ani
The Federal Government, yesterday, expressed surprise at the decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to extend its industrial action by two months.
This is stakeholders including stdents leader, parents and others called on both government and the lecturers to reach a truce.
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The union had first launched a four-week warning industrial action to force the Federal Government to implement the agreement it signed with the university lecturers in 2009.
But, yesterday, the union announced the roll over of the strike for another two months following the expiration of the first one.
ASUU had taken the decision to continue the strike during a marathon National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the University of Abuja over the weekend.
Its President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said the extension was to give the government more time to address all the demands in concrete terms.
He said ASUU leadership was disappointed in the nonchalant and mindless manner with which the Federal Government handled its demands during the last four weeks that the warning strike action lasted.
But the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, however, said the Federal Government has met all the demands of the union. He said all earned allowances as well as revitalisation funds had been released to the union.
He stated this during an interview with journalists at the end of the commemoration of the 2022 Commonwealth Celebration in Abuja, yesterday.
“ASUU announced and we met and everything that they have demanded, we have done all of them, including the earned allowances and the revitalisation fund; but they choose to extend it for two months.”
When contacted last night, National President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon, said: “Our National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting will hold tomorrow (Tuesday). Our members would discuss the issues extensively at the meeting and take a position as regards this latest development from ASUU.”
But President, Nigerian Youth Union (NYU) and former president of NANS, Chinonso obasi, condemned the extension and appealed to ASUU to consider the interest of students who would be at the receiving end of the prolonged industrial actions.
“ASUU shouldn’t be rigid in their standoff with the government. Rather, they should be flexible and considerate. Obviously, we have a government that has no intention to improve education system in Nigeria, neither do they have the interest of the students at heart. I will advice ASUU to shield their sword this time and join forces with other Nigerians who desires changes, to bring in new reformist government in the next general elections scheduled for next year, that would help rescue our education system from imminent collapse. If ASUU should continue this way for a long time, the moral decadence and other social vices would worsen. Crime will rise significantly and no one will be spared in such situations.”
Former national vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, described the unending industrial action as one of the unfulfilled promises of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government. He said he was not surprised even as he charged Nigerians to make up their minds on what they want because the change that the APC promised Nigerians is not working.
For rights activist, Malachy Ugwummadu, it is an extension of the harrowing experience of everyone in the education sector from the students to the lecturers and parents. “But, what has become very unacceptable is the penchant and the disdain with which the Federal Government treats or relates with this most sensitive sector of national life in relation to the agreement that it
He charged students to up their game. “In our time, you can’t just continue like this. Both the government and ASUU will have to explain to us. Although the students have started well, they need the momentum and the support and be more coordinated to push this through because they are the victims,” he stated.
President-General, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Prince Oluyemisi Adeaga, also called on the Federal Government and ASUU to settle for the sake of the future of Nigerian students.
“Where two elephants fight, the grass suffers. In this instance, it is a common knowledge that the students and parents are the ones suffering. This will also have long term negative effect on the country.”
Prince Ade Adeloye, who has a daughter studying French Language in Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, said the extension is highly disappointing and a complete bad omen on our education sector and tasked the government to do the needful.
“Students who are supposed to spend four years in the university, because of the incessant strike have been ending up to spend six or seven years. So, the government and the ASUU should quickly settle and safeguard the future of this generation.”
The Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, also described the extension of ASUU strike to two months as unfortunate.
He urged the union to embrace dialogue and meet with the new renegotiation committee set up recently by government and retable their demands for deliberation.
He acknowledged that ASUU has a case but that since government has raised issues with the deployment of UTAS to pay salary, the union should engage the Federal Government on the new payment platform.