Following the ongoing indefinite strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) has given university lecturers a two-week ultimatum to resume classes, failure of which there will be a massive, non-peaceful protest nationwide. Also, to press home its demands, the students wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari which they delivered to the Ministers of Education and Labour, Malam Adamu Adamu and Dr. Chris Ngige, through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Sunny Echonu.
The National President of the association, Aruna Kadiri, who addressed journalists at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, lamented that incessant strikes by the university lecturers have become part of their curriculum and this is unacceptable. He registered the union’s displeasure towards ASUU’s refusal to honour the last meeting that was scheduled between it and the federal government, claiming that if only the university lecturers had attended the meeting, there was a possibility that the pending issues would have being resolved. “Today’s peaceful protest by NANS is just a part of its own continued engagement with both parties. Consequently, we hereby demand that the federal government should do everything within its powers to ensure a quick resolution of the impasse.
” That if after two weeks both parties are not able to resolve the issues, the students, under NANS shall embark on a mass action to call global attention to the numerous plights of the Nigerian students. It is our hope that as responsible parties, the federal government and ASUU would take urgent steps to resolve the issues and reopen our universities.” In receiving the letter at the entrance of the ministry of education, the permanent secretary who thanked the students for conducting themselves in an orderly manner, and pledged that the letter would be forwarded to the appropriate quarters.
While pleading with the students to remain peaceful in their pursuit, he assured that negotiations are ongoing and hopefully before the expiration of two weeks, the crisis would be resolved and students would go back to their respective institutions.
Meanwhile, the ongoing leadership tussle between rival groups of NANS took a new twist yesterday when one of the rival president, Kadiri, was bundled out of the Unity Fountain, Abuja. Crisis started when enraged students numbering over 200 chased away Kadiri who was parading himself as President of the NANS in opposition to their affirmed leader, Chinonso Obasi.
Witnesses stated that Kadiri had planned to stage an unauthorised protest against the ongoing strike by ASUU at the Unity Fountain when the students loyal to the President of NANS, Chinonso Obasi swooped on him and he fled from the scene.
The students on getting winds of what they considered as unauthorised protest, moved to the venue to stop the organiser, insisting that he does not have the authority to speak on behalf of Nigerian students. According to the students, Kadiri is a meddlesome interloper who has consistently tried to cause disaffection in the leadership of the Nigerian students by giving awards to some discredited politicians who are facing criminal cases at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission (ICPC). The students while insisting that the authentic President of NANS remained Obasi, called on Kadiri to desist from further parading himself as President. Some of the student sources claimed: “The dubious activities of the same Aruna Kadiri was said to have been responsible for the cancellation of South Zonal Congress of NANS which held at the College of Education, Ilesha, Osun State where he was accused of bribing the Zonal Coordinator and other stakeholders with the sum of N200,000 at the venue of the convention for him to be recognised”. Although, he was allowed to speak, Kadiri was said to have fled immediately Obasi with his executives arrived the venue of the convention from Ghana where they had gone to attend the All African Students Union Summit.”
However, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to personally see to the quickest resolution of the ongoing industrial actions in the tertiary educational institutions and the public health sector. National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said in a statement yesterday that as a person who by age can be considered a consummate statesman, the president ought to show more than passive interest in bringing about functional and an effective education and health sectors.
The rights group reminded President Buhari that when he took over power from former President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983, as a military officer, he had cited the collapse of the critical education and health sectors as one of the reasons for the military’s intervention in governance. The rights group, however, added that even after the current president had won political office and sworn in for over two years, his administration has not prioritised the education and health sectors which formed the basis for his involvement in the taking over of the democratic space even as the then military general.
HURIWA noted that most persons have raised rational and empirically justifiable concern that the president has continued to patronise foreign health and educational services and institutions for his own benefit and that of his offsprings, just like all other political office holders, thereby occasioning critical question around the issues of the genuineness of his government public healthcare and educational policies. “We humbly urge president Buhari to be a statesman in the real sense of it by directing the quickest resolution of all outstanding issues afflicting the collapsing national health and education sectors. Resident and public healthcare providers and members of the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) who deserve to operate in conducive environment so that they can provide qualitative services to Nigerians at all times. We do also expect there medical and academic practitioners to pursue other mechanisms of resolving trade and professional unions’ related crises than often resorting to total clampdown on academic and healthcare services which adversely endangers the health and academic wellbeing of ordinary citizens,” the group added.