Akin Akande, Abuja
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Wednesday lashed out at the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) the union of pursuing selfish interests and disguising it as a campaign that will benefit the whole of the university education sector.
NANS berated the union for the strike, which has paralysed academic activities in all public universities across the country for more that three months saying that the union is being hypocritical about its demands and the strike.
The students’ umbrella body and the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) in a joint press briefing held in Abuja on the lingering industrial dispute between the Federal Government and ASSU lamented that the academic union had so far refused to meet with their representatives despite repeated efforts to have audience with its leadership with a view to have a better understanding of the union’s demands.
The students representatives said that the cause being pursued by the academic staff union is not in the interest of the Nigerian public and threatened to make public details of the 2009 signed agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government.
One of ASUU’s main grouse with the Federal Government is the failure to honour certain aspects of the 2009 agreement.
NANS and NYCN said they had obtained copies of the documents and were convinced that ASUU was being egocentric in its demand from Federal Government rather than pursuing the interest of Nigerian university system.
NANS President, Yinka Gbadebo, who spoke on behalf of the two bodies said that NANS representatives had met with the Federal Government’s chairman of Needs Assessment Committee, Governor Gabriel Suswan, who according to him made copies of the 2009 agreement and status update on the demands of ASUU available to the students’ body.
He said that the union has been playing hide and seek over the students’ request to meet with its leadership, a development he said, suggested that the union has something sinister to hide as far as the ongoing crisis is concerned.
Speaking on the demands put forward by ASUU in the 2009 negotiated agreement the NANS President disclosed that the union’s demands according to documents obtained from the Needs Assessment committee are divided into primary and secondary demands.
“The primary demands are the earned allowance totaling N87 billion being demanded by ASUU for her members. ASUU is also demanding that all landed properties in public universities nationwide should be allocated to her by government to be managed via a company called ASUU Holdings,” he said.
“The secondary demands are those, which encapsulate conducive environment for teaching and learning, total implementation of UNESCO recommendation on education etc. A total of N400billion is being demanded by ASUU for these for 2013″ he said.
The youth bodies while throwing their support behind ASUU for its secondary demands, said that the authenticity and sincerity of the union primary demands are questionable.
“Whereas, it has become clear that they are the reasons why ASUU has been adamant to call off the strike,” Gbadebo said.
In reference to the signed agreement and status update of the negotiation between ASUU and FG, the N87billiom being demanded by ASUU was not calculated and stated clearly as at the time the 2009 agreement was reached.
“The N87billion was generally calculated and presented to government to be inserted into the agreement by ASUU in February this year,” he said.
While calling on ASUU not to politicise its struggle, NANS and NYCN called for a National Education Stakeholders’ Dialogue to give practical solutions to the myriad of problems militating against education development in the country.
This was as they called on the union members to call off the strike in the interest of students who are at the receiving end of the power tussle.
They also warned those they said had been trying to polarise their ranks to desist from such action.
“We want to equally sound a clear note of warning to some ASUU members who are relentlessly trying to polarize our dear organisatrion, NANS through sponsorship of fallacious, slanderous and libelous publications by fictitious and to a great extent unauthorized persons in the name of NANS to desist from this act of shame, as any further sponsorship of such will be met with the full venom of the wrath of Nigerian students and youths,” he added.