By Emmanuel Edukugho
WITH the closure of public universities due to ongoing nationwide, indefinite strike by lecturers, followed by the non-academic, administrative staff now in the third week, accusing fingers are pointed at Federal Government for being insincere and insensitive to the tragic situation in the sector.
Professor Ayo Banjo, former Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, who as Pro-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt , was chairman of Governmentâ€™s Negotiating Team that signed the 2001 Agreement between FG and ASUU on behalf of the Federal Government has blamed non-implementation of the earlier agreement reached between the two parties as cause of the current crisis in public universities.
â€œThe Federal Government is not sincere in addressing issues raised by ASUU. It is unfortunate.â€ He urged the Education Minister to re-open fresh negotiations with the lecturers to end the crisis.
Chief Onem Nelson Onem, Acting president, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), declared his support for the strike, describing governmentâ€™s attitude to education as â€œlukewarm and trepidâ€.
He said the strike is unfortunate and uncalled for as it could be totally avoided, if Federal Government had honoured the agreement reached.
â€œIt is highly incomprehensible that a government which prides itself as embracing due process and rule of law would tend to renege on an agreement reached after a formal bargaining process,â€ according to Nelson.
Dr. Sunday Mankinde, Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, believed that the nation has sufficient resources to meet ASUUâ€™s demands and beyond â€œEducation is not well funded in Nigeria at all.
We need to properly fund education. What are we doing with our money? He said that insufficient funding was the cause of the rot in the education sector, and appealed to the government to fund education as panacea for the crisis.
Professor Julius Akinboye, formerly of Education Psychology Department, University of Ibadan, said that insincerity on the part of the Federal Government is responsible for the strikes rocking our universities.
Speaking while delivering Lagos State Universityâ€™s Distinguished Lecture titled: â€œEntrepreneurial Creativity and Innovation in the University Programmes,â€ he asserted that demands of ASUU are genuine which cannot be ignored by any government interested in development of its citizens.
The seasoned educationist argued that if government was sincere in developing Nigerian universities, there is no way it would deliberate on the fate of university education without consulting lecturers.
Akinboye advised the Federal Government to invite ASUU to a round table discussion and negotiate with them.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), in a statement by its Secretary-General, Chief John Kolawole, called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency and national interest, sign its own part of the agreement, as this will restore the much needed peace in the universities.
He explained that the demands by ASUU and other unions including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities are not self-serving, but patriotic meant to sustain development of the country.
NBA President, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) said.
â€œIt is worthy to note that the agreement between Federal Government and ASUU is a culmination of negotiations spanning two and half years. It smacks of bad faith for any representative of the government to deny the existence of same. The issue of education must be taken seriously.
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has asked the Federal Government to ensure that ASUU calls off the strike so that normal work can resume in the universities while conscious efforts are made to resolve festering problems in tertiary institutions, once and for all.
This was contained in the communique signed by ACFâ€™s National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani after the National Executive Council meeting in Kaduna.
Edo State Commissioner for Education, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Oserenren, reacting to the ASUU strike said that while the Federal Government is handling the issue, urged both parties to compromise, she appealed to the government and ASUU to be â€œhonest and compromiseâ€.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has said it will mobilise over one million-man march of its members for a massive protest against Federal Governmentâ€™s refusal to honour the agreement and accede to the request of ASUU.
Even while the Federal Government says it has met three of the major demands of ASUU that led to the strike â€“ 70-year retirement age for lecturers, autonomy of the universities and increased funding, while the demand for improved wage was now being discussed, ASUU National President, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie said that government was blackmailing the union because these are not the only issues of contention.
The following universities have been shut as a result of the ASUU strike.
*Akwa Ibom State University of Science and Technology.
*Abia State University, Uturu
*Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi
*Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
*Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
*Anambra State University.
*Bayero University, Kano
*Benue State University, Makurdi
*Bukar Abba Ibrahim University, Damaturu, Yobe State.
*Cross River State University of Technology, Ekpo-Abassi, Calabar
*Delta State University, Abraka.
*Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.
*Enugu Staet University of Science and Technology, Enugu.
*Federal University of Technology, Akure.
*Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun.
*Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
*Federal University of Technology, Minna.
*Federal University of Technology, Yola.
*Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
*Ibraheem Babangida University, Lapai.
*Gombe State University.
*Imo State University, Owerri.
*Kano State University of Technology, Wudil.
*Kogi State University, Ayigba, Kogi State.
*Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso
*Lagos State University, Ojo.
*Michael Okpara Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike.
*Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
*Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State.
*Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
*Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.
*Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa.
*Adekunle Ajasin University, Owo
*Osun State University, Osogbo.
*Kebbi State University of Technology, Aliero.
*Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt.
*Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
*University of Abuja, Gwagwalada.
*University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
*University of Ado-Ekiti
*University of Benin, Benin City.
*University of Calabar, Calabar.
*University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
*University of Ilorin, Iorin
*University of Jos, Jos.
*University of Lagos, Akoka.
*University of Maiduguri, Maidiguri.
*University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
*University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Port Harcourt.
*University of Uyo, Uyo.
*Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
*Kaduna State University, Kaduna.
*University of Technology, Aba, Abia State.