Nigerian student leaders have again issued a seven-day ultimatum for the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to resolve the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
The students under the aegies of Council of Student’s Union Presidents (CSUP), on Thursday, August 4, 2022, also demanded that the President should sack the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and his counterpart in the Ministry Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, for their failure to resolve the strike in two weeks as directed.
The CSUPs, which comprised all Presidents of Students Union Governments in over 100 Universities in Nigeria, also lamented the continuous loss of students to incessant killing from bandits attack as a result of their prolonged stay at home caused by the strike.
The Convener of CSUPs and SUG President of the Federal University of Technology in Minna, Ishaka Yahaya, told journalists that failure by the government to end the strike would lead to mass protest across the country.
Some of the demands date back to the unimplemented 2009 agreement the Federal Government had with the union.
The union on August 1, 2022, rolled over the strike with additional four weeks, following alleged failure by the government to address the issue.
This was even after the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), backed by some civil society organisations and students, organised a nationwide solidarity protest supporting ASUU on July 26 and 27, 2022.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu to work with other officials in his government to resolve the stalemate during a meeting with the relevant Federal Government officials in his office on July 19, 2022.
But Yahaya said that many students who were to be in school but resulted to do other jobs get kidnapped and killed in the process.
He told the government to look into the demands of ASUU and attend to them so that they could return to school.
“It is true when they say when two elephants meet; only the grass suffers. It is quite obvious here that both the Federal Government and ASUU have nothing to lose in this fight.
“This is because while the strike action is ongoing, the salary of the Federal Government keeps flowing and at the end of every strike action, nothing stops the salaries of ASUU members also from flowing.
“The only most unfortunate and innocent victim here, you would agree with us are the Nigerian students, who have everything to lose.
“Even when the strike would have been called off, so many of the students will not be able to go for Youth Service due to age limit, so many students after graduation would not be able to afford government jobs due to the age limit consideration,” he said.
Yahaya also said that the strike action had increased the rate of drug abuse, prostitution and thuggery amongst the Nigerian students who under normal circumstances should be in school acquiring knowledge.
He said that the Nigerian students and campuses had been exposed to insecurities and as such students had now become daily victims of kidnapping by the bandits.
He said that the CSUP had written to the Ministry of Education, issuing a seven days ultimatum to reach an amicable resolution with their counterparts, ASUU.
“We hereby appeal to the federal government to meet the demands of ASUU within the shortest period of time as failure to do so would leave us with no option but to go ahead with our peaceful demonstration even amidst this security instability.
“For it is better to die for something than to live for nothing. We also call for the immediate removal of the minister of education and the minister of labour,” he said.
Also, the SUG president of University of Jos, Joshua Adankala, recalled an incident that happened to a 500-level student of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho who was kidnapped and murdered after paying a ransom.
“This is one of the many we know. Students can also be killed during protest, so it is essential for the government to meet the demands of ASUU so that students can return to school,” he said.
The SUG President, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Naajim Gbefwi, called on the government to prioritise education in the interest of Nigerian students.
Gbefwi said that government should focus on the education of students rather than allocating monies to another country for the procurement of vehicles.