By Our Reporters
Stakeholders in the education sector, yesterday, took the supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike to task over his declaration that the on-going strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, would be called off in a few months.
The Senate on its part appealed to ASUU to call off the strike, blaming government negotiators for being ignorant by signing an agreement that could not be implemented.
Similarly, Committee of Vice Chancellors and Registrars of private universities in Nigeria said it had commenced moves to wade into the face-off with a view to ending the strike.
Mr. Wike said Tuesday that the face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU would be resolved in few months.
Reacting, however, ASUU leaders argued that the strike could end in next few days and not months if only the Federal Government had the political will to implement the 2009 agreement it made with the union.
The Chairman of ASUU Chapter of the Niger Delta University, Dr. Beke Sese told Vanguard: “We were surprised when we heard the comment, because we believe that the strike can end in 24 or 48 hours if the government has the political will to do it.
“It is not that we want the strike to go on much longer, but the issues on ground are more pertinent than days or weeks.”
Dr. Adesola Nassir, the chairman ASUU, Ibadan zone said the only way the minister’s assertion could hold water was if the Federal Government was ready to honour the agreement it had with the union in 2009.
Nassir said: “My only guess is that the supervising Minister of Education and the Federal Government must be ready to do what is right and implement the 2009 agreement, because that is the only solution to bring an end to the strike.
“All we have seen from the government in our different meetings is begging; government begging us to keep patching up the education sector so we can continue to churn out half-baked graduates as a result of lack of infrastructure.
The Education Rights Campaign, ERC, however, lamented that the Minister’s statement showed that the Federal Government was unserious about ending the strike.
The ERC National Coordinator, Mr. Hassan Soweto said: “The Government does not seem to mind leaving the education system shut down for a few more months. We believe that if the government is sincere, this strike can end in the next few days.”
On his part, Prof. Lai Oso, Dean, Adebola Adegunwa School of Communication of Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, dismissed insinuations that government had shown enough commitment for ASUU to call off the strike, arguing that it was only deceiving the world.
He said: “What kind of commitment has government shown for ASUU to call back its members to work. Government has not done anything different. Has it injected more funds to universities or has it honestly met the agreement it willingly signed with ASUU since 2009? So, it’s the same old story, and government must stop deceiving the world that it has shown enough commitment.”
Meanwhile, Senate President, David Mark, yesterday, blamed those who represented the Federal Government in negotiating with ASUU, in the contentious 2009 agreement signed by both parties, saying that the university lecturers took advantage of the ignorance of government representatives on the matter.
The Senate in a resolution after the motion on appeal to ASUU to call off the strike and return to work moved by the Senate Leader, Chief Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, and supported by 106 senators also mandated the Senate President and Chairman, National Assembly, David Mark to engage President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of ASUU for amicable resolution of the crisis.
It further mandated the Committee on Education to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Education, the National University Commission, NUC, ASUU and all other relevant stakeholders to proffer lasting solution to stem further strikes in the education sector.
The Senate President who described the motion as very important, said: “I will like to say that as long as we can continue the dialogue we will find a lasting solution.”
“The essence of this motion is to find a solution and a way forward. There are immediate problems that we need to tackle, all the parties involved need to sort things out. My personal appeal on behalf of the Senate to all the parties involved will be that they should try to show understanding.
“Let us shift ground in our understanding of the problem and finding a solution because if all the parties involved just dig in and they say they won’t shift ground then there will be no solution to it and Nigeria will be worse off for it, whether it is the executive, the legislature or the judiciary or ASUU
“Not shifting ground is not going to help us to find a lasting solution to the problem.”
Similarly, Committee of Vice Chancellors and Registrars of private universities in Nigeria said it had begun moves to wade into the on-going face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU with a view to ending the strike.
Chairman of the association who is also Vice Chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, Professor Adebayo Adeyemi stated this, yesterday, during the announcement of the institution’s fifth convocation.
Prof. Adeyemi who described the four-month-old strike as a national problem, denied that the private universities were benefitting from the on-going impasse. He said: “The development is a national embarrassment which nobody is proud of.”
He, however, said, the decision to wade into the crisis was not connected with the recent threat by the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, to shut down private universities over the crisis.
“It is quite beyond us, but, whatever we are doing, we are doing it silently; we are trying to reach to some individuals to resolve the crisis.
“It is true that the students have made the statement, but, I think it was made out of annoyance .
“Our intention is, however, not connected with their threat. It is just that the situation is an ill wind that blows nobody good.”