By IKENNA ASOMBA
Following threats by the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, to shut down private universities over the protracted strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Vice Chancellors of private universities, yesterday, charged the students’ body to mediate between government and ASUU to return normalcy to the country’s universities.
Speaking separately in a telephone chat with Vanguard, the Vice Chancellors argued that there was no need for the threat, since private universities were not owned by government and that their owners didn’t enter into any agreement with the striking university lecturers.
They noted that they also have their wards and relations in public universities, who are affected by the shutdown.
According to Professor Isaac Adeyemi, Vice Chancellor, Bells University of Technology, BELLSTECH, Ota, Ogun State, NANS is made up of matured minds and must, therefore, broker peace between government and the aggrieved lecturers.
He said: “I believe NANS executive is made up of matured individuals. We also have our kids and relations in public universities and we are feeling the pains. Rather than vent their anger on private universities, they should act as mediators to broker peace between government and ASUU. After all, its not a crime to run private universities, because parents are sacrificing so much to send their wards to private universities, where they can acquire qualitative education. I know they said it out of desperation, but I know too well that normalcy will soon return to our public universities.”
Professor Ayodeji Olukoju, Vice Chancellor, Caleb University, Lagos, charged government to avoid wastage in running of the country’s affairs, but to prioritise the funding of education, which is a critical sector of the economy.
Olukoju said: “There was no need for the threat, since private universities’ owners didn’t sign any agreement with ASUU. Education is a free market economy. Its just like a husband and wife’s quarrel which they must settle. NANS should mediate between the warring parties, after all, students have the right to study anywhere they like. Its a matter of choice.”