The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has lashed out on members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), accusing them of deliberately prolonging the six months nationwide strike that had crippled academic activities in Nigerian universities.
NANS President, Sunday Asefon, in a statement, on Thursday, said the students have observed that university lecturers have consistently presented unrealistic conditions to the Federal Government and insisting that it will be met before they call off the strike.
He said the students have been sympathetic and supportive of ASUU demands, but have now decided to withdraw their support because ASUU has been inconsiderate to the plight of the students.
He said: “Since the commencement of this ASUU strike six months ago, the NANS has advocated and pushed in favour of ASUU. We directed our protests, advocacy, and struggles against the Federal Government, requesting they accede to the demands of the striking lecturers.
“We have supported their demand for earned allowance, revitalization funds for tertiary institutions, and the adoption of the UTAS platform for the payment of university lecturers against the Federal Government’s insistence on IPPIS. In the same vein, we rejected the Minister of Education’s suggestion that students should hold ASUU responsible and seek legal compensation for liabilities suffered as a result of the strike.
“Undoubtedly, we have supported ASUU this far because we believed those demands are just and reasonable. But we condemn in totality, the insistence of ASUU on the payment of a six month arrears salary for the entire period of the strike before they can call off the strike.
“This demand is not only insensitive; it is also selfish, inconsiderate, and uncharitable. The six months are periods of no work. As much as we encourage the government to pay their arrears irrespective, it is unfair to base resumption of academic activities on full payment of the arrears.
“We have also, unfortunately, noticed that since the beginning of the strike, ASUU had refused to put the students who are the major losers into consideration whatsoever. They have hidden from us the major areas of contention. Every other stakeholder, except ASUU, has met with us directly to discuss the issues.
“ASUU has masqueraded some of their interests as the interest of tertiary education in Nigeria, and at some point masqueraded their interest as the interest of the students. We know that ASUU is less concerned about the interest of the students because of our experiences with them at our various tertiary institutions.
“University authorities have used ASUU members and leaders to expel, suspend and rusticate students for merely protesting for improved welfare. They expel and rusticate students for protesting for basic needs such as water, power, habitable hostel accommodation, etc. At some point, their anti-students actions are so reckless that you continue to wonder if these lecturers even understand the right to dissent.
“ASUU members arbitrarily fail students for questioning their positions or opinion and sometimes asking too many questions. These same people cannot suddenly turn around to claim they are fighting for our interest, our interest they trample upon at every given opportunity at our various tertiary institutions,” NANS said.
The NANS President, however, advised the striking lecturers to call off the strike if the government has met substantially major areas of their demand, adding that, “we demand an immediate end to this strike, as we encourage the government to fulfill all their promises to ASUU in good faith.
“We no longer believe that this continuous strike is fashionable, reasonable, justifiable, and necessary. If the Federal Government has acceded to most of the requests that necessitated the strike in the first place, the continuation of the strike means there may be other ulterior motives not known to the public and the students, and we will no longer continue to support ASUU to hold the nation and tertiary education ransom.
“Demanding for six-month salary arrears before calling off the strike is just like kidnappers that demand for their ransom before releasing their victim. If ASUU members are insisting that their six months’ salary that they’ve been on strike be paid as against Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act, who will pay the students for their six months house rent and other expenses?” he queried.
(Courtesy: Daily Sun, excluding headline)