By Victor Ahiuma-Young
STRIKING members of the Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in the nationâ€™s universities have said no amount of intimidation or threat of no-work, no-pay can force them to abandon the struggle to make Nigerian universities regain lost glory and once again start producing world class graduates.
General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, in a chat with Vanguard reiterated the union argument that the ongoing strike by members in the universities was not all about emoluments, but about the funding of the university system, failing and decaying infrastructure among other things that have brought the nationâ€™s university education to its lowest ebb.
Adeyemi who is also a deputy president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) appealed to well-meaning Nigerians, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other concerned citizens to prevail on the Federal Government to develop the political will to address the rot in the nationâ€™s university education and the entire educational sector at large, stressing that the cause of the decay in the system is lack of funding.
He wondered why government allow a negotiating team it constituted, to go on for two years if it (government) knew it was not going to honour the agreement?
According to him: â€œWe are surprised with governmentâ€™s U-turn, about government new talk, on this new type of industrial relations practice while government can unilaterally award salary increase. It is unacceptable to us. Government cannot use its will power to determine what agreement to accept and which not to accept.
For government to give us an award of 20 percent, another set of workers, 40 percent when it knows that even if it had given everybody 100 percent there would still be disparity, is completely unacceptable to us. Nevertheless, we have said the action is not just about salary.
It is about lack of funding for the universities, decayed infrastructure, and general conditions that made the Nigerian universities no longer capable of producing world class graduates. We want to use this opportunity to say no amount of intimidation or threat of no work no pay and other tactics of government could break our ranks. We are resolute and determined to ensure that government do the right thing.â€