The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to ground the country in 21 days if government does not meet the demands of striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It has also vowed to go after politicians whose children are not in public institutions of learning.
On network television last night, the head of the government negotiating team, Mr. Wale Babalakin, expressed surprise at ASUU’s action because most universities had not even accessed the N200 billion set aside by former President Goodluck Jonathan to improve facilities. Jonathan released the amount after a 6-month strike action by ASUU.
But on another television station, the ASUU President, Dr. Biodun Ogunyemi, was reiterating the union’s position that government was in serial breach of agreements for more than a decade.
Chinonso Obasi, the National President of NANS, did not say exactly what will be done to the politicians or their children.
From the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; and his Labour and Productivity counterpart, Senator Chris Ngige, came a deafening silence as it appeared they were caught unawares by the indefinite strike action of ASUU, which was long in coming, and was finally consumated in Abuja this Monday.
Both men did not pick calls made to their telephone numbers by everyday.ng.
One of Ngige’s aides, however, said he was very busy today, but will react Tuesday.
In its own statement released on Monday by its President, NANS backed ASUU.
It said: “It is with deep pain and regret that NANS received the news of another indefinite strike by ASUU over federal government’s indifference to their plight.
“Nigerian students see the break-down in negotiations as a further proof that political leaders don’t care about their future.
“Consequently, we wish to call on the federal government to do all it can to get ASUU back to the classrooms. The demands of ASUU are reasonable and touch on the integrity of government, especially in the light of the fight against corruption.
“NANS finds it hard to believe that a perceived responsible government should fail to honour agreements with members of ASUU for more seven years.
“In the light of the foregoing we hereby give the federal government 21 days to resolve outstanding issues with ASUU in the interest of long-suffering Nigerian students who are forced to bear the brunt of government insensitivity.
“Henceforth Nigeria students will mobilize against politicians whose children are not in public institutions.
“In the coming weeks NANS will be meeting with leaders of ASUU to find out their irreducible minimum in their demands such that if by the expiration of 21days ultimatum, Nigeria students will ground activities in the country.”