By Emeka Mamah
The on-going strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has received the support of the Unity Forum as it asked the Federal Government to cut wastages and commit more resources to the education sector.
In a press statement signed by its chairman, Maigida Abdu, the group also decried the spate of industrial actions by various other unions of workers across the country regretting the short and long term effects on the nationâ€™s economy.
According to the statement, â€œit is true that governments at the Federal and States levels have made efforts to support tertiary education in the face of competing demand and unstable income, but it is also true that the funding can be a lot better if governments cut wastages, corruption and misapplication of state funds.
â€œSo much resource that would otherwise be deployed to education is directed towards ceremonies and fat pays to political office holders. Little is left for other important, necessary and strategic national issues.
â€œA visit to our tertiary institutions most especially the Universities will leave no one in doubt as to the level of dilapidation and inadequacy of infrastructure. Tertiary education has virtually collapsed.
â€œLecture rooms, theatres, laboratories, workshops, studentsâ€™ hostels, other studentsâ€™ recreational facilities, lecturersâ€™ offices and residencies, sports facilities and all the things that will make learning complete and easy are either absent, inadequate or in bad shape.
â€œA number of courses fail to meet accreditation because of these problems, or lack of the appropriate academic or non_academic support staff.
â€œFacilities that are designed for certain capacity accommodate multiples of such number. Industries that normally require and support research are generally in trouble therefore unable to assist, while international support is waning due mistrust of the system.
â€œThis leaves government as the sole financier of the Universities. The policy makers that should be disturbed by the situation have their children schooling in highly equipped private universities or infact abroad.
â€œIn a world where the knowledge industry is the most important frontier for development and the future of any society, the solution to the problems bedeviling our tertiary educational institutions will require multi_dimensional but targeted efforts.
â€œThe government must be deliberate about increased funding, rehabilitation and massive expansion of academic and welfare infrastructure and the implementation of all previous agreements with the unions.
â€œIn addition, well endowed individuals and businesses especially in the telecommunication, banking and the remaining surviving industries should, in addition to the statutory commitments they meet, be encouraged to establish foundations that will support investment in infrastructure and research in the universities.
â€œIt is through these efforts that research work can be domesticated and applicable to our local needs.
â€œInternational donor agencies and foundations should also be encouraged to continue to commit their funds to support local efforts and they must be assured of the accountable and transparent use of such assistance.
This will hopefully bring to rest these agitations.
â€œOn the side of the universities, the staff must complement by being more sensitive to studentsâ€™ welfare and teaching, serious with their research work and be more morally upright.
â€œStories that come out of the universities about the behavior of some lecturers towards their primary duties and towards student are scandalous to say the least.
â€œThe universities, being the ground for training future leaders and bulk of the middle class, cannot but produce responsible leaders through a responsible process.
â€œWe in the Unity Forum therefore call on government to view the on-going strikes including that of ASUU with more seriousness and immediately address the demands that are feasible and let the universities resume in the case of ASUU and let the members of other unions too, call off their strikes.
â€œThese strikes should be viewed from national security perspective and be resolved as quickly as possible.â€