Two hundred and sixteen Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora have signed an online petition asking the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities to end the industrial dispute which has kept public universities shut for four months.
The petition launched on change.org, a go-to site for web protests, is asking President Goodluck Jonathan and the National President of ASUU, Dr. Nassir Faggae, to reach an “amicable consensus.”
In the petition entitled, “Mr. President and the Academic Staff Union of Universities: Please End the ASUU Strike now,” the petitioners said the Presidency should stop playing politics with education of the Nigerian youth.
The petition read in part, “Since the ASUU strike began, it has been over half a semester, a lot in the life of students waiting at home, not knowing when the strike will be over. The future of Nigeria is at stake. Stop playing politics with education.
“It is urgent we send a message that it is long past time for the FG and ASUU to reach consensus and get students back to school by ending this strike.”
A majority of non-students who appended their signature to the petition noted that they joined the online protest with a view to crying out to ASUU and the FG to consider poor students whose parents cannot afford the luxury of sending them overseas to study like the sons and daughters of political office holders.
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, joined other students and concerned Nigerians clamouring for a speedy end to the crisisrocking the higher education sector.
Atiku, who featured the link to the petition signing website on his Twitter handle, wrote, “We should never play politics with education. Our future depends on it. It is time for the FG and ASUU to reach a consensus and get students back to school by ending this strike.”
An Abuja-based post-graduate student in one of the public universities in the country, Mubarak Jubrin, expressing his dissatisfaction, wrote: “I am stuck with a semester to finish my Master’s programme. The FG should be doing everything possible to rescue the one institution left that is working towards producing better human beings who will shape the future of our dear country.”
Noting that prolonged shutting down of public universities is a dangerous omen for the society and development of the nation, a Kaduna-based student, Tarik Abubakar, also said Nigerians students were being denied their rights to education.
“Students in other countries are enjoying their rights to education. I am pleading with the FG and ASUU to settle their issue and call off the strike,” Abubakar stated.
A Nigerian student studying at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Godspower Onwudiwe, lamented that the industrial action paints a bad picture of Nigeria on the international scene.
Onwudiwe stated, I feel so sorry for my beloved country because these incessant strikes are a barrier to her general development. Also, as a student in the Diaspora, it paints a very pitiful and shameful picture on our international identity.
“I cannot wait to not only see this strike end but also the end of future strikes to the detriment of the future of this generation and our country at large.”
Jemima Gana, who was moved to sign the petition because she believes that the status quo needs to change as the prosperous future of Nigeria depends on quality education, which is being threatened by the strike.
Gana, who according to the information she provided on the site, is based in Lagos, said Nigerian students need a stable learning environment devoid of strikes for them to be able to compete globally.
“It is so important to me because it is high time the FG took the value of education seriously and in high regard. Students in Nigeria need a stable environment to acquire knowledge and graduate on time in order to contribute their skills to the growth and development of this great nation,” she wrote.