By Emeka Mamah with agency report
Former Military Administrator of Taraba and Oyo States, Dr Amen Oyakhire has asked the Federal Government to address the grievances of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which has led to the closure of universities in the last 88 days, saying that ‘’government is not treating ASUU properly.’’
Oyakhire spoke in an interview with Saturday Vanguard in Benin City, as the strike by ASUU entred its 88th day today.
This was even as the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, also yesterday called on the Federal Government and ASUU to reach amicable settlement to end the ongoing strike by university lecturers.
National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Mr Anthony Sani, who made this known said the strike had brought untold hardship on students, parents and the education sector, and needed to be called off.
In Bida, Niger State, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, also asked the National Assembly to fast track the amendment of the Polytechnic Act to meet modern reality.
ASUP National President, Mr Chibuzor Asomugha, spoke at the union’s 75th National Executive Council Meeting at the Federal Polytechnic, Bida.
ASUU had on July 1, this year embarked on a strike it described as “comprehensive, total and indefinite,” following the non-implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, the union signed with the Federal Government in 2009.
Last Thursday, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, also gave the Federal Government a two-weeks ultimatum to resolve its problem with ASUU to avert the total closure of all public schools in the country.
The NUT is made up of teachers in public primary and secondary schools across Nigeria.
NUT President, Michael Olukoya, gave the ultimatum in Abuja at the end of the union’s meeting with teachers’ representatives across the country.
Olukoya stressed that members of the union would not hesitate to close down the nation’s schools, if the two parties failed to reach agreement after two weeks, adding that ‘’the current ASUU strike is nationalistic, patriotic and self-sacrificing.’’
According to Olukoya, “We will not hesitate to shut down the education system in the country, if the government fails to fulfill or honour the agreement it entered into with the lecturers,” he said.
However, Oyakhire said, ‘’Education is life, education is a nation and if a nation closes its doors against education, generations will perish for lack of knowledge. We have the resources in Nigeria to give our children the best in education. Education is expensive but if we leave it we can try ignorance and we will see the disaster.”
On its own, ASUP said that the last amendment of the Polythechnic Law was done in 2004, adding that it had become obsolete and unusable to meet the challenges of the times.
The president said the House of Representative had conducted public hearing on the amendment, adding that it should be sent to the Senate.
Asomugha said government had to face reality and understand that working under pressure would not help the tertiary education sector.
He decried the discrimination against HND graduates in the public service, adding that the demeaning of their career progression was a huge challenge to the sector.
Asomugha said out of 15 issues they tabled before the Minister of Education in 2011, only two had been met partly.
This, he said, include the migration of Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure, CONTISS, 15 which government refuse to release the circular for implementation.
He stressed that polytechnics should not be short-change for universities, arguing that the cut of marks for polytechnics should be at par with universities.
According to him, there is no different cut of mark in the school certificate for entrance into tertiary institution.
The ACF decried the non availability of international flights from the North, insisting that it was not in the best interest of the nation’s economy