Education

June 23, 2024

Strike: We don’t want another shut down of varsities – NANS, parents beg FG, unions

Strike: We don’t want another shut down of varsities – NANS, parents beg FG, unions

File: President of ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke

By Adesina Wahab, Lagos

As academic and non-academic workers in the university system have threatened to embark on another round of industrial action, students and parents have said they don’t want another closure of universities, calling on the workers and the government to find a way out of their face-off.


According to them, incessant closure of universities is one of the reasons the schools are not faring well in global rankings.


The students spoke under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and the parents under the auspices of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN.


Speaking in a chat with Vanguard newspaper, the National President of NANS, Comrade Lucky Emonefe, noted that students were always bearing the brunt in cases of industrial actions by university workers.


“Government should listen to the lecturers and university workers generally. Some of the things the lecturers are complaining about are genuine.

“Look at the issue of the composition of Governing Councils for higher institutions in the country, many people who have no job being put into such positions were included. Such sensitive positions should be for technocrats in the education sector and academicians.


“Why would the government not honour an agreement it willingly entered into. Honour an agreement you signed.


“However, I would appeal to ASUU members to also give room for mediation and negotiation because in the long run, all parties would still come to the table to talk. Let the parties give room for negotiation and mediation. Students are always at the receiving end of such fight between the sides and nobody wants to waste his or her precious time,” he said.


Also speaking, the Deputy National President of NAPTAN, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said government should honour its promise to the workers.


“Government should pay them and fulfil their obligations. When they went on strike the other time, part of what was agreed to making the workers suspend their action was that nobody would be victimized on account of the strike.


“So, if you are not paying them their dues, are you not victimizing the workers? If ASUU goes on strike, SSANU and NASU do so, the university system would collapse. The other time parents had to keep their children at home for about a session, that is not good for the system.


“Look at the recent global ranking of universities, the best ranked university in the country was in about 1,000th position. All these incessant stikes are parts of the poor ranking of our universities. Government should just be alive to its responsibilities and avert another round of industrial disharmony, ” he noted.


The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, is already warming up for another strike, following the inability of the government to meet some of their demands.


The union, last week, started nationwide press briefings and sensitisation on issues it said could disrupt academic activities on campuses.


Top on the list of their demands is the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement and its implementation.


The agreement is about better welfare packages, funding of the universities, better facilities among others.


Also, ASUU is demanding the payment of four months withheld salaries of members.


Eight months salaries were withheld following the 2022 strike by the union, but only four months have been paid by the Bola Tinubu administration.


On the other hand, non-teaching staff under the umbrella of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, National Association of Academic Technologists,NAAT and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions, NASU, are also demanding the payment of their withheld salaries of between three and a half months and five and a half months.


They are also calling for the implementation of an earlier agreement entered into by their unions and the government.


The academic and non-academic unions have given various timelines as when their demands must be met or they would go on strike.