The Nigeria Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, yesterday assured Nigerians that the industrial action embarked upon by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may end in two days.
In an interview with The Guardian yesterday in Nigeria state capital Abuja, the minister noted that the administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari has a policy of engaging unions, including ASUU.
Adamu also held a closed-door meeting with the leader of the Federal Government Renegotiation Team, Dr. B. O Babalakin (SAN). The minister had, in January, inaugurated the 16-member team to renegotiate the 2009 agreement.
The committee, headed by Babalakin, was given the mandate to dialogue with ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Associated and Allied Institutions (NASU) to ensure sustainable peace and industrial harmony in tertiary institutions.
According to him, the Federal Government is doing all it can to address the frequent closure of universities in the country. “I hope and believe that this would be a one or two days strike. We have a policy of engaging the unions, including ASUU and I think now we are very serious. This is the first time in two years that ASUU is declaring a strike,” Adamu said.
When The Guardian spoke with Babalakin, shortly before the closed-door meeting with the minister, he confirmed the talks with ASUU after it embarked on an indefinite strike. Babalakin also assured that the industrial action would not be prolonged.
The Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC), Prof. Michael Faborode, described the strike as a result of the “mishandling and non-demonstration of sincerity by the government on the state of our education from primary to tertiary level.”
Faborode who made the comment in a statement yesterday in Abuja, stated that the NEEDS Assessment conducted in 2012 was clear about some bad things in Nigerian universities. Yet government after government play around with the future and destiny of the country, while more and more government officials and the rich send their children to oversees leaving the institutions to decay.
“There should have been no strike with forthright engagement with the education sector, but we have been playing to the gallery, while serious apprehension persists about the state of our education from primary to tertiary level,” he said.
According to Faborode, Nigerians are too eager to complain about the quality of education and that no Nigerian university is highly rated globally.
“The way forward is a visible pragramme. It is very obvious that the nation is handling education with levity and disturbing insincerity and we have to face the reality. Pretending or hoping that we can continue to patch-patch without serious soul-searching and redefinition of purpose will be wishful thinking,” he said.
Meanwhile, ASUU, University of Ibadan chapter has inaugurated a strike monitoring committee to ensure an effective prosecution of the industrial action.
The committee headed by Prof. Gbenga Olujide is empowered to ensure that no member of the union engages in any sabotage or does anything that can jeopardise the collective interests of the union while the strike lasts.
Making the announcement at a well-attended congress of the union, ASUU chairman at UI, Dr. Deji Omole stated that the university teachers were pushed to the wall before taking the painful decision to embark on the strike after giving government sufficient time to attend to their demands without positive results.