Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Monday said that the strike by the union would be comprehensive, total and indefinite.
“I want to say that government has once again forced us into this strike as the last option. It will be comprehensive, total and indefinite.
“ASUU will not go back on the action, Ogunyemi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone.
ASUU had on Sunday declared a nationwide strike during its national executive committee meeting at the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
It said that Nigerian universities and the entire education sector were poorly funded.
It also alleged plans by the Federal Government to increase tuition fees and re-introduce an education bank.
ASUU added that it was protesting non-implementation of an agreement it entered into with the Federal Government in 2009 and non-implementation of a Memorandum of Action in 2017.
Ogunyemi said on Monday: “Before declaring this strike, we had written six letters to the Federal Government in the last two years with no headway.
“We kept negotiating with government but it kept imposing things that we do not like.
“The Nigeria Education Bank, for instance, is not new to us as it was put in place between 1993 and 2001 but it failed because of corruption, diversion of funds and government’s failure to fulfil its obligation toward the bank.
“Enough is enough; we feel so much for students, but the needful must be done for them to be confident of the kind of certificates they will carry.
“The strike has commenced; we shall have our monitoring team in all universities to ensure total compliance.”
He, however, noted that the strike would begin fully on Wednesday to give room for ASUU chapters to hold congresses and address their members.
Meanwhile, the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) has expressed sadness at the strike, urging the Federal Government to urgently address it.
“It is sad that we keep going round this same circle over and over, Chief Adeola Ogunbanjo, Second Deputy National President of NAPTAN, said in an interview with NAN on Monday in Lagos.
Ogunbanjo said that the strike had become too many and needed a lasting solution.
“This agitation is becoming one to many; it is one attention that government must strive to pay to ASUU for us to move forward as a people and a nation.
“ASUU has been harping on these issues, and there is a blueprint to back its demands, yet government keeps reneging,’’ he said.
The NAPTAN chief told NAN that Nigeria would record facilitated development if it would give priority attention to education.
“Look at this year’s budget; just meagre seven per cent was set aside for the education sector from the overall national budget.
“This is not good for a country that craves for accelerated growth and transformation,” he said.
Ogunbanjo said that inadequate funding would hinder teaching, research and community development in universities.
He said that research in particular was almost not existent in some universities as a result of poor funding.
According to him, some universities would have lost their relevance but for some foreign grants.
“It is time for government to show more concern and be more responsive to the needs of these institutions and the education sector at large.
“Now, those who will be affected more are our children who will, once more, come back home and probably start engaging themselves in issues capable of compromising their future,’’ he said.
According to him, the strike is capable of making some of students to lose interest in schooling.
“However, I plead with ASUU to reconsider its action as soon as government shows sincere commitment to revisiting the issue.
“If government is able to tackle at least two out of about five issues presented on the table, ASUU should, please, reconsider its action and go back to work for the sake of our children and the future of our dear country,” he urged.
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