By Gabriel Chy Alonta
There have been mixed reactions to the suspension of the over 3-month industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday with students alleging that the striking lecturers may have sheathed their sword due to federal government’s pressure.
Recall that students nationwide, under National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), threatened to boycott the 2019 general election if not called off by ASUU.
Some students who spoke with Orient Education further alleged that ASUU temporarily suspended the strike due to the election that is around the corner, while noting however, that the strike should have been called off for good. They stressed that such conditional suspension still leaves fears in the minds of students who are hungry to return to the classroom.
Emmanuel Obetta opined that students shouldn’t be happy yet for the temporal suspension of strike by ASUU, pointing out that such calculative move by ASUU was to allow university professors participate earnestly in the forthcoming election.
He argued that the suspension was borne out of some selfish interest from the striking lecturers.
Osita Egonu, a Continuous Education Programme (CEP), graduate said that ASUU may likely go back to strike after the general election while expressing pessimism that the federal government would fulfill part of their own agreement with the union.
Another 300-level student of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra state, Happiness Chidume, while expressing excitement that the strike had been suspended, however, added that university management should not fix resumption date until after the general elections.
Contributing, the rector, NationBuilders College of Technology and an associate professor, Williams Obiozor, noted that the suspension of the industrial dispute by the members of academic union of universities was long over-due.
According to him, “It’s high time they called the strike off because. normalcy has to return to our educational system. It is quite appalling that the federal government does not consider education as essential to human growth in this country.
“This is probably because majority of the highly placed government officials have their children admitted in foreign institutions. Just imagine since the past two decades, it has been one strike or the other; disruption of academic calendar.
“It has to stop and we hope that, with the next elections, the Nigerian masses should send a message with their PVCs to politicians who are responsible for the havoc to our educational system”, the rector stated.
A UNIZIK graduate, Raphael Okafor said, “The strike suspension is a big relief for me because it will enable the school authorities to process our statement of result and make it available for our NYSC. They will also mobilise us through the upload of senate list”.
A final year philosophy student, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Chioma Alonta, said that the news of the suspension would not even change the myriad of problems bedeviling the country, while calling for deeper solutions to the education sector.
The national president ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, announced the suspension of the 3-month old strike saying that, if ASUU failed to fight the cause of university education, the fate that befell public primary and secondary schools would soon become the lot of the public university system in Nigeria.
He recalled that the union’s strike action, which started on 4th November, 2018, was situated in the context of accumulated records of indifference and lackadaisical attitude of Government to negotiated agreements with the Union.
“Part of the resolution reached by the ASUU with the federal government include in addition to the N20 billion for 2018, the sum of N25 billion only would be released in April/May 2019, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013.
“Part-payment of the outstanding arrears of the earned academic allowances; defraying the balance up to 2018 in 4 tranches within 36 months; and mainstreaming further payments of EAA into the annual budgets beginning from 2019 budget.
“PICA verification and the release of the arrears of salary shortfall at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, not later than 15th February 2019. Strengthening the Consultative Committee on State-owned Universities (CCSOU), inaugurated on Monday, 28th January, 2019 to look into the issues of proliferation, underfunding and governance to consistently deliver on its mandate.
“Payment of the outstanding EAA arrears of all eligible staff in the University of Ilorin, especially the loyal ASUU members whose appointments were illegally terminated by today, 7th February, 2019”, he added.
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