*Wants ASUU’s demands addressed urgently to avoid students used as tools for violence during polls
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–A civil society group said Nigeria was drifting towards a failed state under the present federal administration, advising that desperate measures must be urgently put in place to prevent it from collapse.
This came as it advised the federal government to immediately yield to some demands of the strike Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, with a view to returning students to schools ahead of election, warning that students could be ready tools for violence in the hands of politicians during general elections.
The group under the aegis of Global Youth Skills Acquisition and Poverty Eradication Organisation,GUSAPEO,at a media briefing by its chairman,Amb. Ozegbe Emmanuel,while noting that Nigeria was at crossroad at the moment,however,said the situation could be turned around with “our consistent and collective efforts.”
To this end, the group said it has mapped out strategies to sensitize the people at the grassroots on citizen’s rights.
“As we all know,Nigeria is drifting apart and appears to be at a crossroad, however, with our consistent and collective efforts,we can turn it to a defining moment to build a country where we can all be proud of.
“The events of the past few years,as regards insecurity is nothing to be proud of,as we see our nation is being trapped in mind-blowing violence ranging from banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, senseless killings of fellow citizens by criminal elements and other forms of criminalities,”it said.
Describing the daily killings in the country by some.criminal elements as unfortunate,the group said “we cannot continue like this.”
“The 2023 general election is around the corner, but it will amount to self deceit if nothing is done about insecurity.
“Election is very critical in determining who and who should lead us,so our participation and involvement are important so as to ensure the process and outcome reflect our collective aspirations,”Mr Emmanuel said.
He said his organisation has designed what he called “You Alert and My Mandate” to address insecurity and citizens participation in an election.
He explained that “You Alert” project essentially seeks to promote an understanding among Nigerians that the issue of security should not be left alone in the hands of the government and security agencies,but it should be a collective responsibility of all citizens to continuously work towards making the country free,safe and habitable to all and sundry.
“Our campaign shall be centred on engaging the citizens through town hall meeting, creating a positive awareness on social media,etc,”he said.
He also explained that “My Mandate”project was aimed at education the citizens on how to choose credible leaders, importance of voting and participating in elections,how to properly conduct themselves before, during and after elections,how to avoid violence and decline being used as agent of violence.”
“Our resolve is to ensure Nigerians are better enlightened to know how critical their actions can influence political and security outcomes,”he explained.
Speaking on the current faceoff between Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU,which has resulted to the ongoing strike in public universities, Emmanuel appealed to the government to engage the aggrieved lecturers with a view to reopening universities, warning that anything otherwise could further worsen the current insecurity in the country as açcording to him, students would be ready tools for violence.
He said politicians could find the idle students as their tools in using to perpetuate violence during the polls.
“Everyday,we record a lot of killings here and there and most of these our leaders are after is the 2023 elections,no talking about the killings and given that the people being killed are citizens,as an organisation,what we want to tell the people is that they should be alert,that the security of this country is not for the government and security agencies alone the corporate responsibility of us all.
“Talking about ASUU strike,a country that does not care about education cannot grow. Even though we know that the ASUU issue started long before this administration, we want to appeal to the federal government to listen to ASUU so that they can go back to school before election because most of the students are already preparing to graduate.
“If the strike is not called off before election,these students at home as a result of the ASUU strike will become willing tools for politicians to be used as thugs during the coming elections.
” We appeal to the government to listen to ASUU’s demands with a view to suspending the strike. The youths are looking for what to do and if someone comes to engage them,they will certainly agree,”he said.