The President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Nasir Fagge, said on Tuesday that the current strike by lecturers of public universities in the country was a sacrifice for better things to come.
Fagge told Journalists in Lagos that unless the deficits in the education sector, especially the university system, were addressed once and for all, there would be no development.
Lecturers, under the aegis of ASUU, had on June 30 embarked on what it had described as comprehensive, total and indefinite strike in public universities across the country.
The lecturers are asking for the implementation of some aspects of an agreement they jointly entered into with the Federal government in 2009. According to Fagge, it is regrettable that the strike is protracted, and that the decision of ASUU to remain adamant until its demands are fully met can seem uncomfortable and worrisome. He said that the industrial action was a sacrifice needed to salvage the entire economy of the country.
“I sincerely want to call on all concerned, especially students and parents, to bear with us, as well as join hands with us in the struggle to right the wrongs in our education sector once and for all, for the good of us all and that of the country.
“I know it is quite a difficult time for us but I also want to state that what we are doing is for our own good, as well as ensure that strikes become rare, as a weapon to get things done in our system.
“We also want to ensure that there is sincerity and respect for mutual agreements by parties in order to attain a common goal for the good of our dear country,” he said. Fagge, however, lauded the supervising education Minister, Chief Nyesom Wike, for finding time to meet with the Executive Committee of ASUU, in a bid to find a lasting solution to the protracted strike.
The unionist also commended the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and other stakeholders for their concern in attempts to end the strike. He noted that such was the spirit needed to ensure that nobody felt cheated and that what the lecturers were asking for was truly for the advancement of the course of the country.
According to Fagge, with the current attempts by the various stakeholders, he is optimistic that there will soon be a mutual understanding between the parties.
“I think with the various meetings we have held with the concerned stakeholders, I am optimistic that there will soon be a way out and our demands met, so that in the shortest possible time, we will get the required development that will make us compete favourably within the comity of nations.
“For us in the academic communities, we strongly wish government should look into the deficit of insincerity in our system, teaching facilities, in order for us to be able to deliver on our mandate.
“Majority of our children and wards in this country do attend these public universities and we cannot afford to fold our hands and watch them study under deplorable conditions, while those who can afford sending their children abroad feel little or no concern about it,” he said.
On the appointment of ministers to replace the recently sacked ones, Fagge suggested that it should be hinged strictly on the basis of merit.
“We need people who will come in with confidence of the power that be in terms of tackling challenges; be up and doing and would always want to come up with new approaches to addressing problems,” he said