By Chioma Onuegbu
THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, Calabar zone, has said Nigerians blaming the union for the prolonged industrial action lacked knowledge about their real demands.
The zonal Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Dr. Aniekan Brown, spoke during an interview in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
Brown stressed that the union’s struggle was selfless, contrary to insinuation in some quarters that they want to be earning as much as the political class of the country.
He appreciated many Nigerians, who, however, supported and sympathized with the union for understanding that what they are doing is in the interview of the country’s future.
His word: “Essentially when we opted for this struggle, we had known that it wasn’t supposed to be a case of popularity contest.
“I salute the support we’ve had over the months. It was a well-thought-out decision to embark on a strike for a better future for all of us.
“But my view is that anybody who will take offense with the union, anybody who is blaming ASUU today does that out of ignorance. So I will appeal to them to take it easy and understand with us.
“What ASUU is doing is a selfless struggle.
For those who are blaming ASUU, our challenge is to educate them, because if they had known why we are on strke, they will not blame ASUU.
“That also tells you the average of education in our country, because we’ve held press conferences, we’ve had appearances on Television, Radio programmes at various stations and levels. We even interpret in vernacular, and you still find people not following”
Dr Brown described failure of government to meet ASUU demands, despite the prolonged strike as a case of ineptitude and social injustice, stressing that people running Government don’t know what to do to address the challenge in the education system.
Asked what happens after the four weeks extension, Federal government didn’t respond positively, he said, “Of course, we shut down indefinitely, then there is no School in Nigeria. We are saying that having come this far, it is a no going back situation.
“The whole basis of the re-negotiation is to reposition lecturers for optimal delivery for students, for the betterment of Nigeria. Now the point is this, if it has taken government almost six months and they are yet to agree on what to do, you can now understand that if we had not declared a Strike we wouldn’t have left a scratch.
“We declared an initial four weeks, made it eight weeks, extended it to twelve weeks and government doesn’t care, so it took us series of struggles to come this far.
“That is why I said the bottom line is if government does not respond positively, then we remain here, we shut down completely.
“Five months without salary is a big sacrifice, but it is not enough to stop us. So I will like to tell people that for our tomorrow, we sacrifice today”