The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has pleaded with the Federal Government to address the grievances of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to ensure commencement of academic activities in public universities.
Mr Chukwunonso Onwe, NANS Director of External Affairs, Zone B and leader of the students’ body in Ebonyi State University (EBSU), made the appeal at a media briefing in Abakaliki on Tuesday.
Zone B comprises universities in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones.
Onwe urged the Federal Government to expeditiously address the grievances of ASUU so as to bring to an end the nationwide strike.
He said that Nigerian students are the greatest victims of the current face-off between the Federal Government and the university lecturers.
The NANS leader stressed that students could not afford to sit on the fence any more in the matter.
He advised parties in the dispute to show more commitment at resolving the dispute so as to pave way for students to go back to school.
“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly and relevant authorities to save the nation’s university education by addressing the lingering crisis and stop incessant industrial disharmony in the sector,” he said.
The students’ leader bemoaned the poor state of infrastructure in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, stressing that ASUU demand for better funding of Universities was to improve the sector.
“We support the lecturers in their demand which is centred around improved funding to promote research, develop infrastructure and achieve better teaching and learning environment.
“The N220 billion being demanded by ASUU as part of the N1.1trillion demand is not so much that Federal Government cannot meet even as the union has shifted position and agreed on quarterly tranche payment of the N220 billion.
“We stand by ASUU, we call on eminent patriotic Nigerians to support ASUU and urge the Federal Government to urgently honour its earlier agreement with the union to end this inglorious face-off,” he added.
Onwe said that if the strike lingers, the entire Nigerian students may be compelled to boycott the forthcoming general elections as well as disrupt academic activities in private universities.
“We shall embark on a mass action to picket the private universities and other tertiary institutions owned by individuals and their firms so that students in these institutions will be made to stay at home.
“When we do this, and achieve a total shut down of all tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the leaders will know that we are not animals but human beings.”
Reports have it that the national leadership of ASUU declared an indefinite nationwide strike on Nov. 4, 2018 to press home its demands.
It would be recalled that ASUU’s team met with Federal Government’s team on Monday in Abuja, while the action of the union is being awaited as its leadership said it would further consult with its members.