lFG hasn’t invited us for negotiation —ASUU President
lAs strike takes toll on final year, post-graduate students
By Henry Umoru, Dayo Adesulu & Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to urgently honour the agreements reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, with a view to calling off the strike in the overall interest of the nation’s education sector and students in universities.
The intervention of the Senate came on a day President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union was yet to be invited to the negotiation table to resolve issues that led to the indefinite strike.
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, Senator Jibrin Barau, APC, Kano North.
Presenting the motion, Senator Barau said: “ASUU embarked on strike to press demands for increment in the funding of public universities and the payment of accumulated allowances.
“These issues have been the determinants of the relationship between the union and the government during past administrations.
“In the true spirit of its good intention towards ASUU, the Federal Government in the past two days, promised to release N20 billion to the union.”
In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani, PRP, Kaduna Central, said: “ASUU strike is a national problem. Since 1992, Nigerians have been faced with strike after strike which has led to shut down of universities.
“Issues raised by ASUU are genuine. The Federal Government needs to fund public universities. The issues raised by ASUU are in the best interest of education in Nigeria and is also in the best interest of young people.
“Our universities need adequate funding.”
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who urged the federal government to honour all the agreements reached with ASUU, said: “It is important that the Federal Government honour the existing agreement that has been reached as soon as possible so that this strike can be called off.
‘’ASUU should also bear in mind the interest of all Nigerians and ensure that they find an amicable solution to this.”
FG hasn’t invitedus for negotiation—ASUU President
Meanwhile, President of Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, yesterday vowed to continue the indefinite strike, adding that the Federal Government was yet to invite the union to the negotiation table to resolve issues.
‘’We have not received any invitation from the Federal Government, if they do, we will go,’’ he said.
Ogunyemi, in a telephone conversation with Vanguard, disclosed that the issue was beyond the N1.I trillion the Federal Government owed the union.
He said: ‘’The issue on ground is beyond the N1.1 trillion, there are some burning issues the federal government has to address.’’
On whether the government has the N1.1 trillion to pay the union, Ogunyemi said: ‘’The Federal Government usually say they don’t have money and it is not new to us.’
‘’The issue of not having money is about priority. What have they done to look into suggestions by the public. Nigerians should begin to suggest to our ruling class on their role in national development.”
UNIBEN, AAU, shut
As the strike continued yesterday, academic activities at the University of Benin, UNIBEN and Ambrose Alli University, AAU, Ekpoma, Edo State, were paralysed, taking a toll on the final year and postgraduate students who hoped to graduate this year.
These two category of students are worst hit as the regular students in the two universities are on vacation.
A final year Theatre Arts students in Ekenwan Campus of UNIBEN, Gracious Alenkhe, said she was disturbed by the strike as she was at the verge of defending her project already fixed for later this month, lamenting that the strike might also delay her mobilisation for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.
It was the same scenario in AAU as the local chapter chairman of ASUU, Dr Monday Igbafen, said there was full compliance with the ASUU NEC decision.
“We have the most vibrant chapter of ASUU in AAU, we are having 100 per cent compliance here, no doubt about that. We believe government should do the right thing and until they do that, we will remain on strike,’’ he said.