By FUNMILAYO ADEYEMI
Abuja- Mixed reactions have greeted the extension of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike by another 12 weeks.
Some stakeholders in the sector have condemned the extension, while asking the Federal Government to immediately address demands of ASUU.
The stakeholders spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday after ASUU announced extending the strike by another 12 weeks.
Mrs Arinola Badmus, a parent, lamented the extension saying that it would cause more harm than good to the students, communities and the larger society if not immediately addressed.
Badmus said that the decision by the union was insensitive as the government had decided to allow the strike to linger, adding that the display of ‘I don’t care attitude’ of the government had brought about the present situation.
“We can say that the union is insensitive, but what about the government. Why are they always shying away from their responsibilities?
“This is not the first time the union will be putting their demands before the table, the government should answer them so that our children can return to school.
“Many of them were about writing examination before the strike. Now they will be spending additional 12 weeks after they had stayed at home for 12 weeks before.
“This is very sad, don’t forget that when these children are not engaged with something, they end up becoming nuisance to the society so the government must note this to avoid problems,” she said.
Also, the National President, National Association of Nigerian Students, Mr Sunday Asefon, in a statement, said the association would declare a national action on total shut down of the economy.
“The 3-month extension of the strike is totally condemned. The failure of the government to reach agreement with ASUU underscores their lack of concern and empathy to the plight of the common men and women of our nation who couldn’t afford private tertiary institutions.
“Having exhausted all window of constructive engagement with the government. I, on behalf of the national leadership of NANS, therefore declare National Action from May 10.
“The National Action, tagged “Operation Test Run”, shall be held in all the 36 states of the federation.
“Federal roads across the 36 States shall be occupied for a minimum of three hours. The operation shall be a precursor to a total shutdown that will be decided during our Senate meeting/pre-convention on May 14,” he said.
Asefon said that the decision of the association from the convention would be binding as they would be total.
He said the extension of the ASUU strike was a direct declaration of war by the Federal Government against university students.
“Our proposal to congress on May 14 shall be total blockage of the airport roads across the country and total disruption of political party primaries, blockage of the national assembly until they are committed to passing legislation banning public office holders from sending their children to universities abroad.
“We therefore advise divisive elements or paid agents of government to stay clear of our actions as the consequences shall be severe.
“I, therefore call on NLC, TUC and Civil Society Organisations to join us to salvage the remaining crackers of our public tertiary education,” he said.
Also, a political analyst, Mr Rotimi Lawrence, appealed to the government and the union to dialogue and reach a decision that would benefit the Nigerian students.
Lawrence expressed worry over the extension of the strike, saying that it would give the opportunity to private universities to ‘ride of horses’.
He added that the previous administration was largely part of the agreement of ASUU, hence the government had a role to play in ensuring the implementation of the agreement.
“Government makes promises and don’t fulfil. Remember that government had promised Nigerian teachers at the 2020 World Teachers Day of improved renumeration and extension of teachers retirement age.
“This is 2022 and this had not been implemented. The demands of ASUU were agreed upon in 2009 and we are still negotiating on how it will be implemented, this is too bad for us as a country,” he said.
NAN reports that the union had embarked on a nationwide warning strike from Feb. 14 to press home its members’ demands.
The first warning strike started on Feb. 14 for four weeks and the second strike commenced on March 15 for another four weeks, while the third one was announced on May 9 for another 12 weeks.
The lecturers’ demands include funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System. (NAN)