By Emmanuel EdukughoÂ & Olubusuyi Adenipekun
PRESSURE has been mounting on the federal government to put an end to the 3-month old strike by lecturers which has completely paralysed academic activities in all public universities in the country.
Last Thursday, the Federal Government indicated its willingness to reopen negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) provided the union called off its three-month old strike.
In recent times, both students and lecturers have taken to the streets in some major cities in protest over the lingering strike, blaming the federal government for being insensitive to the plight of our university system.
Rallies have been held in Ibadan, Lagos, Benin, Asaba and other cities over the need for government to settle the dispute and allow students to resume in their various universities.
In the most recent rally, ASUU members went round major streets of Ibadan absolving the union and putting the blame on government for its â€œnon-responsiveness and irresponsibility to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.â€
They said it was the federal government that truncated the negotiation by walking out of the deliberation, and wondered why and how can employer abandon negotiation with his or her employees.
According to chairman of University of Ibadan branch of ASUU, Dr. Ademola Aremu, the government was toying with the future of Nigerian youths because the children of all the leaders were enjoying the best of tertiary education abroad.
But the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr.Adetokunbo Kayode, at a recent ministerial press briefing, called on the striking lecturers to consider plight of thousands of university students who have become social miscreants as a result of the strike.
He said that the strike was already affecting the socio-economic development of the country.
According to him, government was committed to re-opening negotiation with ASUU, if only it could prevail on its members to return to the classrooms.
Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) called on the Federal Government and ASUU to settle their difference so that the lingering strike could be called off.
Speaking while leading the ACF delegation to visit the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, chairman, Board of Trustees of ACF, Gen Jeremiah Useni (Rtd), said the forum was prepared to intervene in the FGN/ASUU feud.
â€œEven though we have heard from the media and others, we felt the need to hear from the horsesâ€™s mouth,â€ and that ACF also plans to hold similar meeting with ASUU to determine the best way out of the crisis.
Responding, Egwu said ASUU went on strike without waiting for the outcome of a meeting scheduled to hold between the union and government.
It was recalled that various groups such as IAP, Senate Committee on Education, Vice Chancellors, religious leaders, the Federal Government, NLC, President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, his wife Turai, and several well-meaning Nigerians had appealed to ASUU to end the strike, all to no avail.
Egwu urged ASUU to listen to the pleas of the people and call off the stike.