ASUU: Coalition demands end to lingering strike action

…Threatens to mobilize mass action against govt.

By Chimezie Godfrey

Save Public Education Campaign, a Nigerian Civic Coalition for the uphold of Educational Rights in Nigeria, has called for conclusion of the lingering negotiation process between ASUU and relevant stakeholders to end the strike action.

The Convener of the Campaign, and Former Presidential Aspirant, Comrade Vivian Bello who made the call on Monday in Abuja, said this is necessary to allow students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria go back to school.

Comrade Bello lamented that the coalition has watched with total awe and abhorrence the near-total collapse of tertiary education in Nigeria.

She condemned the unpopular policies of the Federal Government in Education sector in Nigeria, which have adversely affected public Universities and Tertiary Institutions across the Country,

She noted that distressing statistics show, that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has been on strike for a total of over 725 days, since the beginning of this administration over issues that bother largely on poor welfare, University Autonomy and lack of adequate funding for Universities.

According to her, when tallied inversely, this amounts to an entire two and half years lost, in the educational lives of innocent Nigerian Children Students in public Universities across the Country.

She therefore demanded for the immediate end to this anomaly called ASUU strike.

She said,”In the light of the foregoing therefore, we unequivocally demand as follows;

“That the negotiation process of the strike action, including as led by the Prof Nimi Briggs committee, be immediately concluded and SIGNED (We demand an end to the lingering foot-dragging).

“The IPPIS has been specifically described and pointed out with evidence, by the striking academic unions as problematic, inconsistent and fraudulent. The Platform should therefore be set aside while the proposed more credible alternatives; UTAS, U3PS deployed accordingly.

“We call for immediate payment of ALL withheld salaries of the striking academic unions.

“Having become aware of a proposed bill by the Senate to establish financial Aid Scheme for students; we demand that such proposed Scheme be clearly explained to Nigerians. We want to see a properly public funded education at all levels in Nigeria and not creating another looting avenue or portfolio for some unscrupulous mindless public officials.

“That in view of the gravity of the situation, we make a clarion call for unity and coming together of staff unions, students, workers and communities across the Country, to mobilize and get ready for civic mass actions to compel the government to take the necessary steps to end the strike and have the millions of our children and students, return to school to end the jeopardy of their Education and future.

“Lastly therefore, we wish to state unequivocally that, If the strike action lingers, we will be forced to commence another round of mass protests Nationwide to bring an end to the unjust denial of innocent Nigerians their Right to Education.”

Comrade Bello who linked the lingering strike action to the worsening insecurity in the country, called for an immediate end to this anomaly.

She urged the government to invest the enormous resources spent on fighting insecurity on education, adding that education can be a panacea to security challenges in the country.

She also noted that the above ultimatum was issued by the Nigerian women, adding that if the protracted negotiation to end the strike is not concluded within a reasonable time, Nigeria women of all sections, all religions and tribe would commence a mass protest.

“We make bold to say, that if government will recognize the futility in its so called insecurity-fighting campaign, change strategy and invest a greater proportion of the resources it is expending in the insecurity campaign in providing robust, efficient and quality educational system and structure and qualitatively educate its teeming citizenry, within a calculated period of time, insecurity will gradually die a natural death in Nigeria and the society will take on its hitherto regular and peaceful equilibrium. In order words, we submit boldly that, Education can be a veritable panacea to insecurity in Nigeria,”Comrade Bello stressed.

Also speaking, the Co-convener of the Campaign, Comrade Dimeji Macaulay said they would wait for the outcome of the meeting between various stakeholders to end the ASUU Strike, adding that if they do not conclude within the next 14 days they may embark on mass action.