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Outrage as ASUU extends strike by two months

By Iyabo Lawal (Lagos) and Kanayo Umeh (Abuja)
15 March 2022   |   3:34 am
Parents, undergraduates and other stakeholders have voiced their disappointment as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) extended its ongoing strike by two months.

Emmanuel Osodeke

NANS holds emergency meeting, stakeholders urge further dialogue
• FG insists it has met aggrieved lecturers’ demands

Parents, undergraduates and other stakeholders have voiced their disappointment as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) extended its ongoing strike by two months.

The aggrieved teachers had on February 14 declared a one-month warning strike in protest against the government’s failure to meet their demands.

Rising from an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) at the University of Abuja, yesterday, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said: “Having taken reports on the engagements of trustees and principal officers with the government, the union concluded that government had failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) within the four-week roll-over strike period and resolved that the strike be rolled over for another eight weeks to give government more time to address all the issues in concrete terms so that our students will resume as soon as possible.”

BUT President, National Parents-Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said ASUU and the Federal Government could sort out their differences without making students victims.

He lamented that the strikes were becoming too worrisome, noting that the development does not portray the country in good light before the international community.

He said: “The strikes are making youths lose faith in education and consequently take to negative vices that may compromise their future. This development is dangerous to us as a nation. It does not speak well of us as a nation that truly desires accelerated development and transformation.

“Government should tackle this issue. It must go to work, and quickly too, to revisit whatever demands the lecturers are making.”

An educationist, Michael Effiong, said the strikes were becoming dangerous trends that consistently weaken fulfilment of the hopes and dreams of youths.

He said: “We cannot be going back and forth on this issue that has been lingering for several years. It is bastardising education in the country. It is the reason why some of our children are seeking higher education elsewhere. The crisis between Ukraine and Russia has let us know how many of our children are pursuing studies in that country.”

A student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Olawunmi Aluko, said frequent industrial actions have caused her so much pain. According to her, “I’m supposed to be in 500-Level but I’m still in 400-Level. We were supposed to start our first-semester examination when this warning strike started and now, we don’t know our fate.”

A parent, Mr. Anthony Nelson, urged the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the crisis urgently. He warned that if the situation is not properly handled, most students could lose focus in life and indulge in vices, such as Internet fraud, armed robbery, banditry and kidnapping.

Mrs. Toluwani Olonade, a resident of Lagos, said the frequency of ASUU strikes was frustrating to both parents and students. In her words: “During such actions, students become idle, making some of them indulge in all sorts of criminal activities.”

ALSO, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) called for an emergency meeting of students and leaders to seek a way forward.

In a letter sent to its national executive council members, zonal coordinators Joint Campus Council (JCC) and stakeholders, NANS national president, Sunday Asefon, said: “Following the unfavourable outcome of ASUU’s NEC meeting held on Sunday, at the University of Abuja, where the union, among other resolutions, decided to extend ongoing warning strike for another eight weeks, I am compelled to summon this emergency expanded national executive council meeting to enable us, as major and principal victims of the perpetual face-off between ASUU and the Federal Government meet to take a decisive decision on the way forward to address the disruption in the academic calendar and our lives as well.”

MEANWHILE, Federal Government, in its reaction, maintained it had met all the demands of the union.

Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in an interview with newsmen at the end of the commemoration of the 2022 Commonwealth Celebration in Abuja, said: “Everything that the union demanded, we have done, including earned allowances and revitalisation fund. They chose to extend it for two months for reasons best known to them.”