Outrage as ASUU extends strike by 12 weeks

The extension of the over 80 days strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has sparked outrage and condemnations across the country.

ASUU rose from a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, and announced an extension by another 12 weeks. ASUU had been on strike for 11 weeks. A one-month warning strike was announced on February 14, and it was thereafter extended by eight weeks in March.

A statement by ASUU’s president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, said the extension was to give the Federal Government enough time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.

However, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Omoyele Sowore and Otunba Gani Adams have described the prolonged strike as a declaration of war against Nigerian students.

NANS President, Sunday Asefon, in a statement, registered the frustration of students who have remained at home for over three months due to the lecturers’ industrial action.

He said failure of the Federal Government to reach an agreement with ASUU underscores its lack of concern for the plight of the common Nigerians who cannot afford to send their wards to private tertiary institutions.

He announced the decision of NANS to launch a mass action nationwide to register their displeasure with the situation.

“Having exhausted all window of constructive engagement with the government. I, on behalf of the national leadership of NANS, therefore, declare national action from Tuesday, May 10. The national action is tagged, ‘Operation test run’ and it shall be held in all the 36 state of the federation. Federal roads across the 36 states should be occupied for a minimum of three hours.”

Asefon said it would serve as precursor to a total shutdown to be decided during NANS senate meeting/pre-convention on Saturday May, 14.

“Our decision from the pre-convention shall be binding. The action shall be total as the extension of ASUU strike is a direct declaration of war by the Federal Government against university students in Nigeria. Our proposal to congress on May 14 shall be total blockage of airport roads across the country and total disruption of political parties’ primaries, blockage of the National Assembly until they are committed to passing legislation banning public office holders from sending their children to universities abroad.”

He, therefore, advised divisive elements or paid agents of government to steer clear of the actions by students.

Asefon called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to join the students in salvaging the public tertiary education in Nigeria.

But ahead of the planned NANS’ action, students from the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma (AAU) and Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, yesterday, barricaded the gate of the Benin Airport in protest over the protracted industrial action.

Their protest led to traffic gridlock along the Benin Airport road. The students in their large number also moved to the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Edo State council to register their grievances.

Addressing newsmen at the NUJ secretariat, the Students Union Government’s (SUG) president, Foster Amadin, said the students felt frustrated with the strike,  which was yesterday extended to August.

•Sowore backs mass action

Activist and presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore, also advised students to demonstrate their dissatisfaction through a mass action that would ground everything in the country until the crisis is resolved.

Wrting on his Twitter page, he urged public universities’ students to teach “inhuman” political rulers a “big lesson” by commencing a mass action.

“Nigerian youths/students must teach these inhuman political rulers playing Russian roulette with their future a BIG lesson. Let the organising start now, shut down everything with mass action, stop everything until our higher institutions are well funded #WeCantContinueLikeThis. They’re doing this because their kids don’t attend Nigerian universities!,” he wrote.

•FG mortgaging future of Nigerian youths  –Gani Adams

Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, also lambasted the Federal Government for mortgaging the future of Nigerian youths with the prolonged strike .

Speaking in Lagos at his 52nd birthday ceremony, Adams expressed concern over the failure of government to resolve the lecturers’  strike, saying Nigeria students should not be allowed to stay at home for another 12 weeks.

Adams said the future of the country depends on the way the government handled the education sector and urged that the deficits in the sector be effectively addressed.

“I feel bad whenever I looked back and see that the university students are still at home.This affects their thinking and that actually portend grave danger to us as a nation,” he said. 

Speaking on his annual scholarship designed to encourage indigent students from four universities in the South West, Adams said it became a tradition to bolster the hope of the students as a way of encouraging the students.

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