BY DAYO ADESULU
The lingering industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which enters its third month, has been greeted with reactions from Nigerian mothers who lamented the face- off between the Federal Government and the union and expressed readiness to wade into the matter.
Chief Rita Lori Ogbebor, the national leader, ‘Mothers in Nigeria,’ who spoke in Lagos under the auspices of ‘Mothers in Nigeria’ a non-governmental organisation said; “Nigerian mothers are tired of seeing our children seated at the cybercafes browsing and chatting away their time with Black Berry. These students are turning gang because they have nothing to do. Enough is enough, we’ll take the bull by the horn, we must now face the fact.”
She said that mothers of these undergraduates will in the next two weeks approach ASUU and the Federal Government separately in crucial meetings to demand reasons why their children are still at home and how to put a lasting solution to the incessant strike.
Ogbebor who vowed to work in collaboration with renown mothers in the education sector noted that after their meeting, they shall first approach ASUU to find out the way forward. She said, “We are aware of their grievances, but our interest is to see how we all can sit together and find a practical way forward. After our meeting with ASUU, we shall proceed to the government, sit with them to practically find out how we can solve the problem.”
The human rights activist who put her weight behind ASUU demands stated: “They say ASUU is looking for money, but ASUU’s demands are legitimate and reasonable. They are requesting for infrastructure in the universities because there are no adequate lecture rooms, science laboratories and the existing structure are in deplorable state.
“Apart from the issue of strike, we realised that there are lots of malpractices in the university. Buying papers, giving worthless certificates; boys who have not been to the university or attended any lecture, getting certificates? These are the issues we are going to talk about.
“As a mother and employer of labour, I know we have a problem in the sector. Most of the applicants we employed for work are not up to the standard in other countries of the world. Our graduates cannot rub shoulders with other students from the rest of the world. Years back, students from other countries came to Nigeria for studies, but it is not so any more.
“Today, our children go to Togo, Benin and other parts of the world for education. I am ashamed that we are not seeing these as problems. However, we mothers have seen these problems and we are saying, we do not want half-baked graduates as a result of inadequate funding. There is no going back on the right of our children; qualitative education is their right.”
The national leader who is passionate about seeing students go back to school, reiterated that mothers will not tolerate from the Federal Government the excuse that they have got no money to fund education. According to her, “if you are a father of six children, I am sure you will look for a way to ensure your children have education.”