Students Don’t Want Us To End Strike – ASUU President
The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said it is continuing its nationwide strike on the advice of university students. In a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the President of the union, Dr. Isa Fagge, said students were tired of the incessant industrial actions by the university lecturers due to the Federal Government’s failure to implement the agreement it had with ASUU since 2009. Fagge said the union had decided to heed the advice of the students to continue the strike until the Federal Government fully implemented the agreement. “Our students have come out to say they don’t want us to call off the strike until the Federal Government answers us, because they don’t want us to call off now and later we go back to strike again. So, we are heeding the advice of our students,” he said. On the complaint by the Federal Government that it lacked the funds to implement the agreement, Fagge said it was not all about money, noting that government did not need funds to start implementing some parts of the agreement. “There are issues and agreement they can implement without money. Why don’t they begin with those ones?” he asked. He added that it was unfortunate that the government had pulled out of dialogue with ASUU, stating that the union would not be intimidated. He said, “Now, government has pulled out of the dialogue. We thought we were the ones going on strike, but now government has also gone on strike.” Last Thursday, university students under the auspices of the National Association of Nigerian Students reportedly staged a peaceful protest in Ado-Ekiti and flayed the Federal Government for failing to honour the agreement it had with ASUU since 2009. The students, who were from public universities, threatened to disrupt activities of private universities, adding that the government was not bothered about their plight because children of government officials were studying either in private universities or studying overseas. The university lecturers began an indefinite strike on July 1 and have been demanding full implementation of the agreement ASUU had with the Federal Government in 2009, which among other things include the UNESCO-recommended 26 per cent budgetary allocation for education. However, the government said it could not implement the agreement, and is seeking re-negotiation. The Federal Government, last Wednesday, accused ASUU of being unrealistic by continuing its nationwide strike and asked it to rethink its demands, considering other commitments government has. The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who gave government’s position on the strike when he briefed journalists at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council, said apart from security, education was one of the sectors the government had expended a lot of money on.