Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has said he sympathized with students over the prolonged strike by the union.
Osodeke said this while reacting to the N34 billion released by the Federal Government for payment of minimum wage consequential adjustment. He said the students were suffering for Nigeria’s future and education system.
ASUU has been on strike since Feb. 14 over improved welfare packages, better working conditions and the implementation of various labour agreements signed with the Federal Government between 2009 and 2020.
Osodeke told NAN that the students were not being punished, but they were paying the price to ensure that Nigeria had a good education system.
“ASUU sympathizes with them and we believe that with what is going on, if we continue with the struggle, we will have an education system where Nigerian students will have the same lecture rooms with their foreign counterparts,” Osodeke said.
The ASUU president said there was no need to call off the strike when the Federal Government had not attended to their demands. He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to do the needful as the N34 billion released was not part of their demands.
It will be recalled that a week ago, the ever-busy Assumpta Cathedral road in Owerri Imo State was barricaded as students of the Federal University of Technology, FUTO, and Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri led other students in protest against the ongoing impasse between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The protest commenced around 11: 00 am with students blocking the highway around Imo International Conference Centre, IICC, creating a gridlock within and outward Owerri. The action of the students left many motorists and travellers stranded.
The students carried placards with such inscriptions as: “ We must graduate, #End ASUU strike now#”, #FG Save our education and save our lives “ #We say no to educational stagnation”, #“We are tired of deadlock meetings” and #“Education should not be this difficult”.
Speaking at the protest ground, Chairman of the Federal University Technology Owerri (FUTO) branch of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Comrade Nwokeji Uchenna appealed to the federal government to respond urgently to the yearnings of ASUU.
Nwokeji who appealed to the students to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner said ASUU had been clamouring since the commencement of the strike that something be done with immediate effect but the federal government had refused to listen.
“We are pleading with the FG, the governors and other stakeholders to please do the needful, Nigeria doesn’t need this. The FG should as a matter of urgency call off the strike, and pay allowances owed to ASUU since 2012. Nigeria as a country has enough money to solve the problem. Everyday EFCC goes about arresting youths because they don’t want them to go into fraud but when you frustrate them out of school, you don’t blame them for their actions.”
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Comrade Ejike PraiseGod, a student of FUTO and the Deputy Coordinator, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Southeast said if nothing is being done, Nigerian students would be at home for the next 6 months.
“This strike is causing a lot of harm to the Nigerian student. We can no longer bear the brunt of the feud between ASUU and the Federal Government. FG has to understand the fact that Nigerian students will always be at the receiving end. Our students are suffering, our students are fed up. This whole issue is getting out of hand. We call for a well-established resolution for the benefit of the students.”
But many universities are on strike. Ekiti State University in Ado-Ekiti (EKSU) announced that academic activities would resume on Tuesday, May 24 and one week after, their students are back to lectures, strike or no strike.
Bode Olofinmuagun, Director of Information and Corporate Affairs issued a statement to that effect the receding Monday when the decision to resume was taken at a meeting. Olofinmuagun disclosed that it discussed the impact of the ongoing strike by all the four staff unions.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced its industrial action in February. The EKSU spokesman said the management was concerned about the pains experienced by students and parents. He explained that one academic session (2021/2022) of admission was still outstanding, while the 2020/2021 second semester was yet to be concluded.
“Moreover, the admission process for the 2022/2023 academic session will commence soonest,” he said.
The statement added that the school management decided to reopen in the interest of students, parents, guardians, society and its survival.
The management of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, has also directed all staff and students of the institution to resume. The institution directed the staff and students to resume academic activities on Thursday 26 May 2022. The institution gave the directive in a statement signed by its Registrar, Kayode Ogunleye.
The institution is one of the tertiary educational institutions owned by Oyo State Government and was established about thirty years ago. The Registrar in the statement said that resumption is for the continuation of the academic activities for the First Semester of the 2021/2022 Academic Session.
The resumption order came in the wake of the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The LAUTECH ASUU had joined the ongoing strike embarked upon by the union. The union had also vowed not to call off the strike until the demands of the union were met.
The institution, while calling the staff and the students to resume, added that the amended academic calendar for the semester would soon be made available. Ogunleye in the statement enjoined the staff and students to abide by the directive.
“Upon the directive of the Visitor to the University, the Management hereby informs all staff and students that the University will continue its academic activities for the First Semester of the 2021/2022 Academic Session on Thursday 26 May 2022. The amended Academic Calendar for the semester will soon be made available. Staff and students are hereby enjoined to abide by this directive”.