By VERONICA DARIYA/GAMI TADANYIGBE
BWARI- Some concerned parents have asked both the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to settle the issues through mutual agreement to end the ongoing strike by the union.
Also an NGO, Noble Youths Mass Support Association (NYMSA), called on both parties to reach a workable and speedy resolution to enable students resume school.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) spoke with the respondents on Monday in Abuja.
NAN reports that the ongoing strike embarked upon on Feb. 14, by ASUU makes it six months the students have been staying at home over the failure of government and the union to reach workable agreements.
Dr Swanta Banta, a parent and a public servant said that both ASUU and the Federal Government had some adjustments to make.
According to her, it will not be a bad idea for the students to come together and sue the warring parties for treating them with contempt and disregard.
Banta, however, opined that when both parties meet in court, they should be able to resolve their issues with a mutual concession and some sort of reasoning that might consider the students’ predicament.
Banta said that it was unfortunate that the Federal Government seemed not to prioritise the education sector nor have ideas on how to raise money where ASUU was concerned.
She said that the union was not left without blame and must make amends in its system of operations.
“It’s true that Nigeria is broke, but it’s also true that we have been borrowing money to meet up with certain obligations, some of which I consider frivolous and yet never for ASUU.
“Meanwhile, I also don’t totally sympathise with ASUU because our lecturers are partly responsible for the collapse of the standard of education.
“I really don’t see why they prefer to be on UTAS and not IPPIS.
“Enough of visiting many universities on part time teaching and receiving allowances while the students are subjected to last minute crash programmes for the courses assigned these lecturers.
“Both ASUU and the Federal Government have some adjustments to make and must do so speedily and let our children resume school.”
Mr Akin Odunlade, another parent and a lawyer said that both parties had continued to benefit from the system and might have fallen apart somewhere “and unfortunately they are battling at the detriment of the students.’’
“They must patch the loopholes; where there are some sorts of irregularities, both parties must make a compromise at this stage and stop infringing on the rights of the students in the process.
“It has gotten out of hand and none of them is right nor wrong at this stage but they would have to agree on something tangible to end the distress this they have already caused both parents and their children.
“Not everyone can afford the luxury of a private institution, not with the present economic hardship please. ”
Similarly, Mrs Sophie Moses, another parent urged the Federal Government to pay at least half of what it owed the union, saying “it is their right to work and be paid’’.
Moses said that if politicians were able to raise N100 million each for presidential candidacy in the upcoming general elections, it would not hurt to put such dedication and effort into the education sector.
“Unfortunately, some people are sitting on monies and have vowed to frustrate the efforts of these lecturers who responsible for teaching our children.
“This back and forth is wasting the future of our children and it is not fair.
“It is the entitlement of these lecturers and I think they should just pay them for their hard work instead of letting the monies to be stolen by some greedy ones.”
Also reacting, Noble Youths Mass Support Association (NYMSA), an NGO, has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government to reach a workable and speedy resolution to enable students resume school.
Mr Godwin Onmonya, the National Coordinator of the group told NAN that the strike was having negative impact on students and appealed for speedy resolution.
Omonya, however, called on the government to convene education confab to proffer adequate solution and help resolve the lingering universities workers strike.
“Our youths in public universities are losing their most active and creative years, while their parents are undergoing a painful agony of witnessing their children and resources waste away.
“We make this call in the overriding interest of our nation, but more particularly for the huge number of students, parents, academic and non-teaching staff in public universities across the country.
“Sadly, the children of most top government officials attend private universities or study abroad; they do not feel the distress and torment of the ordinary parents.
“We also want to call for a law mandating state actors their nuclear families to attend only Nigerian institutions while in office.
“In addition, the government is also wasting our national resources because by the end of the strike, all academic staff and non-teaching staff would still receive their salaries,” he said.
However, Mr Silas Lagi, a parent in Gwagwalada Area Council, whose child is studying veterinary medicine at the University of Abuja, said that the strike had made his son shift focus to other things that he did not budget for.
“After each episode of strike, the children are no more focused and they end up not graduating within the stipulated years.
“My only pain is that the people in government are not feeling it because their own children are not in public schools but abroad or in private schools,” he said.
Meanwhile, ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Abuja, Dr Salawu Lawal, had earlier said there would be no resumption in public universities until “renegotiated 2009 agreement is signed, implemented and the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) deployed.’’
The union through its President, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke had embarked on a nationwide warning strike from Feb. 14 to press home its demands, stressing that the action would continue until their demands were met.
The lecturers are demanding funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System. (NAN)