The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has accused lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of a plans to destroy the public universities through their over six-month indusrtial actions particularly the recently declared indefinite strike.
On February 14, ASUU commenced a four-week strike. After rolling it over twice, NEC of the union asked members to begin total, comprehensive and indefinite strike on Monday, August 29, until its demands were met by the Federal Government.
NANS said it had taken time to review the decision to declare an indefinite strike and considered it not only unpatriotic, unnecessary but wicked, and definitely not in the interest of Nigeria nor the tertiary education system in Nigeria.
Its President, Sunday Asefon, in a statement, queried the rationale behind ASUU’s decision to extend the strike after their demands had been met by government except for the demand for payment of six months salary arrears.
He said ASUU initially succeeded in masquerading the strike as an action in the interest of the tertiary education system and the teeming Nigerian students, but recent events indicated that the union has an ulterior motive which is to collapse university education system in Nigeria, and systematically promote private universities where many of them have their children, stakes, and perhaps where they receive payment for the job of collapsing public universities in Nigeria.
He called on the Federal Government to investigate the leadership of ASUU with the aim of unraveling the motivation for their “insistence on collapsing the public university system in Nigeria.”
Despite the outrage, ASUU has maintained that the strike is a patriotic struggle to save public universities from total collapse.
In separate statements, branch chairmen of ASUU, University of Lagos (UNILAG) branch, Dr. Dele Ashiru and his counterpart from the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Dr. Ray Chikogu, denied backing out of the strike.
Dr. Ashiru said the attention of the leadership was drawn to fake news purporting that UNILAG chapter for the first time voted for the suspension of the strike.
Ashiru assured members that the union would overcome the struggle, stating, “darkness cannot overshadow light and evil can never trump over good.”
In his reaction, the branch chairman of UNIBEN denied the allegation that the university would resume normal academic activities on Monday, September 4.
Chikogu urged the public to disregard the deliberate misinformation, adding that ASUU UNIBEN is irrevocably committed to executing the current strike to its logical conclusion or until such a time that NEC will deem it fit to direct otherwise.”
He said the branch was convinced that the retrogressive forces need to be checked for the sake of posterity, warning, “no retreat, no surrender. We have no doubts whatsoever that the verdict of history will be on the side of ASUU.”
However, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has challenged the Federal Government, to rise to the occasion and resolve the six months old nationwide strike embarked upon by university lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Obi in his verified Twitter account said it was unconscionable, worrisome and unacceptable that Federal Government would allow such an industrial action to become almost intractable to the detriment of millions of students.
He said it was time government engaged in collaborative negotiations with ASUU, and in good faith to ensure the strike is resolved as soon as possible so that campuses can be reopened and students return to classes.
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