A non-governmental organisation, the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to avert another industrial shut down in the Nigeria university system by personally interfacing with the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure the immediate passage into law of the pending 2009 ASUU /FGN Bill before the end of the current legislative calendar next week.
This, it said, was to stop a fresh industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Specifically, the Academic Staff Union of Universities over the weekend threatened to go on an indefinite strike over the delay in the passage of the 2009 ASUU/FGN bill.
HURIWA, which made this call Tuesday in Abuja through a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of Media Affairs, Ms. Zainab Yusuf, charged both the Senate President David Mark and Speaker Dimeji Bankole to ensure that the pending 2009 ASUU/Federal Government of Nigeria’s bill was passed into law by the legislative houses for accent by President Jonathan before the expiration of the current sixth session of the National Assembly early next month.
The group reminded the Federal Government of the serious threat to the national security that the previously prolonged but suspended industrial action by the university teachers caused the country and tasked the government and the National Assembly to do their own part by passing the relevant bill into law since the university teachers had indeed exercised commendable restraint for a long period of time.
“We are worried that if President Jonathan and the hierarchy of the National Assembly did not make hay while the sun shines regarding the agitation by the nation’s university teachers to improve the standard of facilities in the universities and improve the conditions of service of the university workers by promulgating the relevant legal framework to support the agreement reached between ASUU and the FGN, then the nation will once more be subjected to the unfortunate closure of public universities.
“We are worried that if this fresh strike action is allowed to happen, then our youth will once more be thrown out to the streets and by extension the devil’s workshop and as the saying goes, the idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” the statement read.
HURIWA warned that constant closure of the nation’s universities, apart from bringing disrepute for the certificates awarded by our local tertiary institutions, is capable of making many idle youth to embrace crime and other social vices.
The statement added,“Government must and should not gamble with the future of our youth by standing by and allowing the public universities to once more close down due to the inability of government to adhere to agreement reached between it and the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Why has it taken the National Assembly almost eternity to pass this simple bill concerning the welfare of university teachers and our youth but takes very little time for the leadership of the National Assembly to pad up their Legislators own take home pay?” HURIWA asserted.
Already, the Delta State University, Abraka, has given a notice that from May 29 it would down tools if the bill which stipulates a 70-year retirement age for academics in the professional cadre in Nigeria universities did not become law.