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I’m not eunuch, my children are also affected by varsity closure, Awuzie, ASUU President declares

By Emmanuel Edukugho
As the indefinite strike action declared by university lecturers bites harder with thousands of students stranded at home, Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie, National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has revealed that his own children and those of other striking  teachers are affected by the closure of Universities.

“The University is not reformatory. All of us have children. I am not eunuch, my children are there.

They are affected by the closure. But the right thing should be done, in order for the students to justify the certificates given.”

Speaking with Vanguard Education Weekly after his recent press conference in Lagos, Awuzie said there was no reason why 90% of candidates who sat for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) University entrance examination should not be admitted.

“A University properly funded can admit 100,000 students alone. But when only 10% are offered admission out of over one million candidates, the remaining become illiterates.”

On the ongoing strike, there is no going back.

“It will continue as long as possible. All the stakeholders are being carried along. Because the nation is just coming out from military rule, people believe government is God. Parents are docile. You have to fight for your rights.

We are prepared, as there is nothing to hide. It had been over two years of negotiating the document (Agreement). We’ve been patriotic.”

What about the long wait involved in this crisis?

“It’s to have better, quality students. Our graduates have no jobs, so no skills. There are not enough lecturers. It is not just good, masters degree holders teaching in the university.

I teach undergraduates, masters and Ph.D students. When you have first class, you should be able to defend it. Not just having the papers alone.”

Asked to state what the nation has lost due to the strike.

“You’re asking what we’ve lost by the strike. I don’t know what you mean by asking me what we’ve lost. If you want to know what we’ve lost, multiply what you think we’ve lost by the number of students in all the universities, parents and see what that had been lost.”

He explained that ASUU has been negotiating with the Federal Government in the past two and half years.

“We had dialogue with the Senate, House of Representatives, talked to prominent Nigerians, lobbied, prayed to God.  There is nothing left that we have not done. We have done everything. University is not secondary school. Either there is university or no university. The Ghana action is…….”

The ASUU leader commended Nigerian students for their understanding of the issues at stake. “Truth will triumph over falsehood.”

As regards state Universities not to be involved in the struggle, he clarified the situation thus:

“There is one  university system in Nigeria federal and state universities exist.”
Awuzie referred to Harvard University, USA, which has 19,000 students and 11,000 professors.

“Nigeria should not be taken for a ride. The country is ranked 580th in the world. Look at the population of students. This must stop. We have to move on. The greatest investment is building human capital, not roads.”

He added: “The spirit is determined to continue with the struggle. We won’t be dampened. We are not slaves. They want to turn us to slaves. We met the military and we survived.”

He appealed to anyone with alternative ways to resolve the crisis to come forward. “Anyone with alternatives, not lobby, not dialogue, not consultation. We’ve done all these for long time. University education gives confidence, makes people to explore, to be creative. No nation can survive without education.

If you generate 6,000 MW electricity and the machines break down, you will look for qualified people to put them back to work.”

On the arbitration case in court between ASUU and Federal Government, Awuzie and, “you can see our lawyer on the matter.”


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.