14th August, 2017
Mixed reaction on Monday greeted a fresh strike by the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), as some stakeholders condemned the action, while others said the Federal Government should address the demands.
The respondents, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, were however unanimous that the Federal Government should use the recovered looted fund to settle the union’s demands.
NAN reports that the national leadership of the union on Sunday declared an indefinite strike across the nation.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the union’s president at a news conference on Monday in Abuja, announced that the strike would be total, comprehensive and indefinite.
Ogunyemi said that during the period, all academic activities such as teaching, attendance of any form of meetings or supervision of examination at all levels would be suspended.
Reacting the development, a former Education Minister, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, called on both the ASUU and the Federal Government to x-ray the lingering issues and find out where they both failed to do the needful.
Obaji told NAN that the previous administration was largely part of the agreement and that it was enough reason why ASUU ought to have ensured something tangible was done even before the general elections.
“I am not saying ASUU is right to embark on strike or not.
“Recall that the whole issue was protracted in 2013 when there was a six months strike and eventually, the union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the previous government.
“But, both sides ought not to have waited for this length of time for the whole thing to degenerate again to this level,’’ the former minister said.
According to her, Nigerians are hearing of recovered monies looted by some individuals.
“I think the right thing to do is channel most of the stolen monies that were recovered to the education sector and infrastructure.
“I am indeed not for or against this strike, but my sincere take is for both the government, ASUU and other stakeholders to end all this drama by ensuring that they come together.
“They should look at the entire issues critically and seek the way forward.’’
In his view, the National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Michael Olukoya, told NAN on the telephone that the issue of a persistent strike in the sector “is further worsening the already bad state of the sector”.
He said that he expected the government to quickly respond as this was not the best of time for the sector to experience any strike.
“I want to call on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and members of the National Assembly to rise to the occasion and tackle the situation once and for all.
“Government must learn how to respect agreements and show a sincere commitment to the course,’’ Alogba-Olukoya said.
He also said that government should consider ploughing looted monies recovered into the education system because “it is the future of tomorrow’s leaders that are involved.’’
A former Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Southwest zone, Mr Eniola Opeyemi said he supported ASUU’s action.
Opeyemi, however, added that the union should have carried the Nigerian students along in its decision.
“ASUU has actually been in this struggle for quite some time now, which I feel it is okay for them to do.
“But I feel the union did not do the needful by carrying the students along in its decision,’’ he said.
He said the union was fighting a just cause but doing it all on its own without consultation with the students was not good enough.
“On the part of the Federal Government, it should rise up to the occasion for the sake of peace and interest of Nigerian students,’’ Opeyemi said.