By Dayo Johnson and Gbenga Ariyibi Ado Ekiti
President Goodluck Jonathan has pleaded with the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call-off their four-month old industrial action. Jonathan made the plea while commissioning the Faculty of Engineering Complex building of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti yesterday. Jonathan urged ASUU members to review their industrial action and go back to class. The president said his regime was working assiduously to meet the lecturers’ demands.
Jonathan, who was the special guest of honor at the first convocation ceremony at the University, acknowledged that the country is facing a lot of challenges, assuring that his government was poised to solving the problem confronting the education sector.
”Even to those of us holding political offices, those in the health sector, the police, the army, the Department of State Service(DSS), the thinking out there is that we are operating in the best environment. This is not true.
’If we all decide to embark on long strike ,definitely, we will all ground the nation.”
The president reasoned that if ASUU members have genuine and patriotic mind towards pressing home their demands, four months was enough in achieving this.
”I urge every patriotic Nigerian to plead with ASUU to suspend their strike action and resume class.
”I promise to work with all Nigerians,what ever inadequacies we have with education,we are seriously working towards solving it.
”ASUU should temper their anger with patriotism.
”Long strike will definitely ground our educational sector.
”If you are talking to government and government is not listening, or government is not cooperating with you, that is a different thing entirely.
The president promised that his government was steadily trying to solve the problems confronting other sectors of the economy ,including education by providing infrastructural facilities.
He commended the founder of Afe Babalola University for establishing a first class privately owned university.
On the demand of the state government on the establishment of airport and federal secretariat, Jonathan said N400million had been earmarked in this year’s budget for the airport.
Speaking earlier, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, made a plea on the establishment of an airport in the state.
Fayemi noted that the state government had paid part of the N320million counterpart funding for the establishment of the airport.
The governor noted that Ekiti was the only state out of those created in 1996 that is yet to have a federal secretariat.
He disclosed that Ekiti was yet to be fully reimbursed on the N13billion spent on the construction of federal roads in the state, noting that only N2billion was paid to the state by the Federal Government.
Speaking earlier,the founder of the university, Are Afe Babalola(SAN) said he decided to establish the N60billion university because of his love and concern for qualitative education.
Babalola claimed that the institution was rated as the second best private university and number 16 in the country, saying his motive was to provide a world class university.
He appealed to the Federal Government to come to the assistance of private universities in the country, especially in the area of research.
Plea to PHCN workers
Meanwhile, the President has urged workers of recently privatised PHCN to shelve their plan to go on strike on the grounds of non-payment of their entitlements. According to him, efforts were on to pay the entitlements.
Jonathan also assured Nigerians that electricity supply will reasonably stabilise before the middle of next year.
He spoke while commissioning the National Integrated Power Project NIPP 500MW Omotosho Phase II power station in Okitipupa council area of Ondo State.
The commissioning of the Omotosho NIPP is coming 16 days after that of Geregu power station.
Jonathan said Nigerians should appreciate the efforts of his administration in transforming the power sector.
” I am not saying that electricity supply will be total but I want to assure that light will be reasonably stabilised before the middle of next year,” the President said.
According to him, by the time his administration is through with transformation in the power sector, the results will be likened to the reforms in the banking and telecommunication sectors.
The President pointed out that all the ten NIPP which will add 4700MW to the national grid, will be completed by the end of first quarter of next year and be privatised.
He commended Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, traditional rulers, and youths in the community for their supportive role in the realisation of the project.
Earlier, Mimiko said the project will only have meaningful impact when transmission projects are completed.
According to Mimiko, the state will soon complete and invite the President to come and commission a 30MW power station in Omotosho which was initiated by his administration.
He commended the untiring efforts of Jonathan in transforming infrastructure in the country, noting that posterity will judge him positively.
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, lauded the political will of the President in effecting change not only in the power sector but also in all the sectors.
The Omotosho Phase II power station was initiated in 2006 as a follow up to the existing 338MW Omotosho Phase I power station which was constructed with the financial and technical assistance of the government of China.