By FUNMI KOMOLAFE
LAGOS — Lagos based lawyer and activist, Barrister Bamidele Aturu, yesterday, dismissed the Federal Government’s sack threat to striking university lecturers, saying that government has failed to appreciate the rot in the university system. Rather, he said government should meet the demands of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
Aturu, who spoke at the 6th Annual Law and Social Development lecture and public presentation of a book, ‘Law and Practice of the National Industrial Court,” at Lagos Airport Hotel, said it is “sad” that the Fededral Government has failed to appreciate the rot in the university system which ASUU wants corrected,” adding that members of ASUU would not be cowed by such threats.
Condemning the “resume or be sacked” order, Mr. Aturu said: “The truth of the matter is that we no longer have universities in Nigeria. This explains why many people among the ruling class have their children and wards in foreign universities.
“The demands of ASUU in my view are legitimate and patriotic. The government should do everything possible to meet those reasonable demands in order for our schools to be reopened as quickly as possible.”
He recalled attempts by previous military governments to cow ASUU which failed, and warned that the threat of the education minister will also fail.
The guest lecturer, Professor Sofiri Joab- Peterside of the Department of Sociology, Universtity of Port Harcourt, who spoke on ‘The Economy, the Rogues and the Law: The Development Conundrum,’ noted that, “the average Nigerian lives on less than one dollar a day. There are no roads, just as the public hospitals themselves are “dead” and the high education sector practically broken with ASUU on strike for more than four months over the Federal Government’s unfulfilled agreement, while the culture of impunity has become an integral part of the norm of political appointees.”
Also, Barrister Aturu, who insisted that those responsible for the accident that killed Professor Festus Iyayi be brought to book, said, “Iyayi did not die in an accident, he was murdered, pure and simple.
“We reiterate our call for the driver of the escort vehicle that snuffed the life out of this noble champion of the oppressed to be fished out and prosecuted. They may have privatised the economy; we won’t let them privatise our lives.”
He also dismissed the on- going National Conference, saying that it will not achieve the objectives of the original proponents of the idea. Though, he spoke against the decision to boycott it, suggesting that progressive organisations should use the forum to state their views on the state of the nation.
Professor Sofiri Joab- Peterside, also a guest speaker lamented that Nigeria has been unable to make any remarkable development as a result of corruption .