By TUNDE JOSHUA
The Senate on Tuesday moved to halt the planned disruption of activities of political parties including scheduled primaries by promising to intervene in the crisis rocking the ivory towers.
The upper chamber, therefore, urged the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shelve the planned action but toe the part of consultation, not confrontation. It promised to bring the Federal Government and the striking Academic Union of Universities, ASUU back to the negotiations table.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave the assurance on Tuesday at a meeting with executive members of NANS at the National Assembly. Members of NANS met have visited to urge Lawan to intervene in the prolonged crisis, else the students will have no option but to carry out the threat of not allowing any political party to hold its convention in Abuja to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections.
The meeting between NANS and the Senate President was facilitated by Bishop (Dr.) Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha to find solution to the prolonged ASUU strike. Bishop Onuoha said “ASUU embarked on an indefinite strike, as the second round of the eight-week warning strike ended.
Since the first strike on February 14 this year, till the present day, other staff unions in the university system, like the unions of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU; National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Allied Institutions, NASU, have joined the train. “The negligence in education sector is letting the lives of our young generation waste away, while they watch some of the political-elite do the dance of shame”, adding “where are the children of the elite and the affluent right now? They have been whisked away abroad, to learn in better managed institutions, with money that can feed an entire village fat”.
President of NANS, Comrade Asefon Sunday Adedayo told the Senate President, as the number three citizen, to use his good offices to impress on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently resolve the strike embarked upon by ASUU to enable their members go back to classes.
Adedayo said as leaders of Nigerian students, they have nothing to tell them to calm them any more, adding that they have decided to move from “consultation or dialogue to confrontation”, by not allowing any political party to hold its convention in Abuja to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections. In his response, Lawan recalled that it was the intervention of the Senate in the past and had sessions with ASUU and the FG that led to ASUU getting N20-30 billion as academic earned allowance.
“I want to be very frank and if anyone finds what I’m going to say not palatable, I’m sorry. The so-called 2009 agreement signed, for me it is the main cause of problem. That agreement shouldn’t have been signed because there was no way government can provide that kind of resources that the 2009 agreement envisaged.
It was not possible. With due respect for those who worked so hard, but eventually hoping to just get ASUU back to class just signed everything like that”. He said the 2009 was not practicable, adding that someone just wanted ASUU back to class. According to him, “we are not happy that our students are at home. If we get our act right we ought export labour, not brain drain”.
The Senate President paid special respect to Bishop Onuoha for his nationalistic stand, adding that “the Bishop deserves national honour”.