Friday, September 6, 2013

NANS threatens to shut down private varsities over strike

ANOTHER dimension has been introduced to the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), at a peaceful protest in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State Thursday threatened to shut down all private university in the country. The students said they have no option to the threat because they have sat at home for over two months while the children of those who they accused of “planning to mortgage their future” would soon resume academic session in the private universities.

   Calling on the Federal Government to accede to the demands of the striking teachers to avert chaos in the country, the students, who carried placards with various inscriptions, lambasted the Federal Government for its failure to honour the agreement it voluntarily entered with ASUU since 2009, stating that agreements should be honoured in good faith.

   Meanwhile, the Benin Zone of ASUU, comprising Delta State University, Ambrose Ali University, Niger Delta University, University of Benin and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, on Wednesday evening met at the Delta State University, Abraka, for several hours, during which it accused the Federal Government of adopting desperate measures to end the ongoing nationwide strike, now in its ninth week.

   The zonal coordinator, Dr. Sunny O. Ighalo, told newsmen after the meeting that the strike has moved into the critical phase and government was now employing intimidation, blackmail and other gimmicks to undermine the struggle.

   According to him, the N130 billion disbursed to the Committee of Pro-Chancellors (CPC) and Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) is not only at variance with the 2009 agreement but a total negation of all honourable means of respecting an agreement.

   Ighalo reminded Nigerians that the union was not on strike for fresh demands, neither was it ready to negotiate the existing agreement. Rather, it wants government to implement the 2009 ASUU/FG agreement both parties willingly signed in 2009.

   However, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has urged ASUU to go back to classes while negotiations continue, instead of continuing to play politics with the negotiation by insisting that everything contained in the 2009 agreement is met.

   Suswam, who is chairman of the Universities Needs Assessment and Implementation Committee, spoke yesterday when he hosted the National Union of Benue State Students (NUBESS) at the Government House, Makurdi.

   He noted that the Federal Government has done what needed to be done to ensure that the strike was called off but regretted that the leadership of ASUU is misleading the public about the true state of the issues at stake.

   He urged Nigerian students’ leaders to begin to engage ASUU amicably with a view to ensuring that the strike was quickly called off, just as he urged the ASUU leadership to stop playing politics with students’ education.

  While addressing the protesters, the NANS Director of Action and Mobilization (South-West), Comrade Asafon Sunday, pointed out that with the “tremendous upswing in the revenue at the disposal of the Nigeria government, one would have expected such to translate into commensurate improvement in the quality of public education as well as other social services.”

   He also condemned government’s refusal to budget a reasonable amount of money to education in line with UNESCO’s recommendation of 26 per cent of the country’s total budget, noting that some countries with smaller GDP like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, among others, exceeded that benchmark in 2013.

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