By Adesina Wahab
The decision to adopt legal means to resolve the face-off between members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and the Federal Government has been described as a recipe for a long-drawn battle that will further waste the time of students that have been at home for over seven months.
This was stated by the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN and the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, which spoke in chats with the Vanguard on Sunday through their National Presidents, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma and Usman Barambu respectively.
Danjuma, who said the best way to resolve the issues at stake is still negotiation, added that parents and students were already getting fed up with the whole scenario.
“It is like when it seems we are getting close to resolving the issue, some things would just crop up and further heat up the situation many folds. In the first instance, taking the matter to court is just a kind of not being ready to negotiate.
“Assuming the court orders the lecturers to go back to work, will it force them to teach the students? Our own belief is that coming to the negotiation table to resolve the issue is the best. Now, ASUU has appealed, we cannot take the right to appeal from them. We can only pray that the court gives the master accelerated hearing. If that is done at the appeal court, who says the matter cannot be dragged to the Supreme Court. That is wasting more time and compounding the problem,” he noted.
The NAPTAN leader appealed to the union and the government to sheathe their swords in the interest of parents and students.
“Most parents cannot afford to send their children to private universities here, not to talk of universities abroad. We should not deny our children the right to education. Precious time is being wasted,” he added.
Also speaking, the NANS National President, Usman Barambu, noted that the union has the right to appeal and has opted to use that right.
“Like I said earlier, the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria is a win-win situation for all parties. To me, it did not give the government any kind of victory over ASUU. Whatever differences exist between the union and the government are best resolved at the negotiation table. Students are at the receiving end.
“Look at students who live off campus, they are already being pestered to pay rent by their landlords. Pay for accommodation they have not occupied for over seven months. After this issue has been resolved, we will surely seek compensation for students,” he said.
On the claim that the government is looking for a way to ban the union, Barambu opined that the FG is not considering doing that.
“I called the minister and asked him if that was true and he explained that the Registrar of Trade Unions only asked for the audited accounts of ASUU for the past five years. Since that is part of being registered as a trade union, ASUU should do the needful and I was told that they have done that,” he stated.
The new NANS leader also allayed fears that students may soon be back on the street to protest, saying he has not given anybody the go-ahead to do so.
Recall that the NICN last Wednesday ordered ASUU to return to work while negotiation with the government continues and also while the court continues to hear the substantive matter before it.
However, last Friday, ASUU, through its lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, filed a notice of appeal and a stay of the execution of the court order.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14, this year over issues such as improved welfare packages for members, provision of more facilities in the universities, payment of some allowances, the jettisoning of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System, IPPIS, as the payment platform in the university system among others.