Sunday, September 1, 2013

Groups Decry Incessant Strikes by ASUU

As the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of
Universities (ASUU) continues to linger, several Nigerians, corporate
and civil society groups have begun to mount subtle pressure on the
union to soft pedal on its funding demands from the federal
government, with a view to endingthe strike, which has kept the
nation's public universities shut for over 11 weeks.
One of such groups, the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations of
Nigeria (CCSON) has appealed to the striking ASUU members not to be
insistent on the funding demands for the university system,as a way to
resolve the current negotiations deadlock with the government.
The strike, which is now in its third month seems to have no
resolution in sight, as ASUU has insisted on the implementation of the
2009 Agreement and the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), both of
which stipulate that the government would release N1.4 trillion for
the sector in the next three years.
CCSON in a statement issued after an emergency meeting in Abuja at the
weekend, expressed concern at the declining rate of the education
sector and called on the warring parties to urgently work on a
resolution to save the sector from further decline.
In the statement signed by the National Coordinator, Mr. Temitope
Fadahunsi and National Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Yahaya, CCSON disagreed
with ASUU that Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) was not doing
enough for the universities.
"The issue ASUU is fighting for boils down to proper funding and what
Nigerians need is for the tertiary education sector to function
optimally, weimplore ASUU to be logical in their argument on some
issues as regards the betterment of educationin Nigeria", it read.
"We are of the opinion that ASUU is fighting a good fight which is for
the proper funding of the education sector, but the continued strike
going into its third month is not to say that government has not been
doing anything at all in the education sector," the statement added.
In the same vein, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)and other
stakeholders who have waded into the ASUU-FG feud, have continued to
persuade ASUU to resume talks with the federal government.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone B has
expressed dismay over the non-resolution of the industrial action that
led tothe closure of public universities.
President Goodluck Jonathan had already expressedhis surprise that
ASUU had not called off the strike, after federal government had
already offeredN30 billion to settle the allowances of ASUU members as
well as N149 billion for upgrading of infrastructure in the
But the NANS Zone B comprising federal universities in South-east and
South-south states,in a communiqué issued at the end of its council
meeting at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia
State, said both the federal government and the university teachers
should consider the plight of students and make concessions "so that
students can resume their normal academic activities".
The zonal executive council in the communiqué signed by the Zone B
Coordinator, Mr. Chinomso Obasi, Zone B secretary general, Richard
Ekutu, andfive other officials, also frowned at the political crisis
in Rivers State.
On the "Aluu four" the zonal council executives saidthey were unhappy
over the way the Rivers State judiciary handled the matter and vowed
to apply other measures to see that justice was done over the killing
of innocent students.
They equally condemned the extrajudicial killing of students by the
police in Edo and Akwa Ibom States, saying it was high time the
relevant authorities took urgent action to the ceaseless wasting of
future leaders of this nation.
Similarly, the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) has
decried the prolonged strikeby lecturers in the nation's tertiary
institutions, calling on the federal government to address the myriad
of problems in the education sector.
The Fellowship also condemned the increasing level of corruption in
the country and called on Nigerians to stand up against it.
CLASFON particularly expressed concern about the ongoing strike by
ASUU, stressing that there was urgent need for the union and the
governmentto resolve the issues in the interest of the nation.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its Annual National Conference,
which held in Lagos, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY in
Kaduna, the Christian lawyers noted that the education sector was
vital to the development of any nation, pointing out that the prolong
strike would have its negative consequences on the quality of
graduates being produced from the universities.
The communiqué, which was signed by the National President of the
Fellowship, Mr. Sunny Akanni andthe Secretary, Mr. Arome Okwori, also
noted that one of the causes of the crisis was fiscal
irresponsibility, inarticulate public policy and programmes on the
part of the government, wondering why the sum of N52 billion could be
spent on the construction of an Institute of Legislative Studies at
the expense of the problems in the education sector.
The communiqué also lamented what it described as"the systemic
corruption" which has remained an impediment to the nation's quest for
progress andgreatness and urged Nigerians to fight the menacein order
to ensure the development of the country.
The communiqué said: "Corruption in Nigeria is a vice that has eroded
public confidence, diminished public institutions; desecrated public
offices and brought to question the sense of nationalism of our public
functionaries at all levels of governance.
"While corruption manifests in our political and bureaucratic
institutions in toasts of scandals andfinancial improprieties; it is a
vice that has not spared other spheres of our cultural, traditional
and spiritual institutions.
"The conference noted the desecration and gradual erosion of cherished
moral values and virtues of which is one of the factors responsible
for the corruption in the country."

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