Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, on Wednesday, said for the recurring industrial actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to end once and for all, politicians and government officials must be banned from sending their children and wards from schooling in private institutions and in foreign jurisdictions.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, emphasised that until the children of public officers have no educational alternative both at home and abroad, the perennial strike by public university lecturers won’t be earnestly resolved by those in power.
The group, therefore, advocated what it called constructive blackmail of government officials by ASUU as a possible strategy to compel the Federal Government to honour the promises and agreements reached between the government and ASUU.
The group lamented that the intermittent industrial actions embarked upon by aggrieved university lecturers due to the government’s failure to meet certain agreements and conditions is inimical and counterproductive to the bulging over 34 million youths.
HURIWA described the quick resort to strike by ASUU members as lazy and irrational since the members of the Union can as well adopt other proactive, constructive and elaborate alternatives to strikes such as publicising the schools and names of children of Nigerian public office holders schooling overseas.
The group further said that for a country with over 40 million out-of-school children, prolonged stay out of tertiary institutions by youths will fill the crime pool of bandits, fraudsters, ritualists, armed robbers, prostitutes, amongst others.
ASUU, on March 14, at the expiration of its four-week warning strike which it declared on Monday, February 14, had extended the industrial action by two months.
The union led by Professor Emmanuel Osodeke said it made the decision to extend the strike so as to give the Federal Government and its agencies enough time to meet the lingering demands of the union.
The union had embarked on a nine-month strike in 2020 before it was called off in December of that year.
But ASUU said this week that the government had failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action but the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, insisted that the Federal Government had met all of ASUU’s demands including funding for revitalisation of public universities (both Federal and States), renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ ASUU Agreement and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.
Other demands of the union as listed by ASUU include Earned Academic Allowances, State Universities, promotion arrears, withheld salaries, and non-remittance of third-party deductions.
Reacting to the impasse so far, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The Federal Government which is saddled with the provision of quality education has failed woefully. It is more pathetic that government officials including the two education ministers have maintained indifference in meeting ASUU’s demand once and for all and not in piecemeal.
“To think that the present government has eight years to address the matter and it has failed to do so in the last seven years is unthinkable. The reason, however, is not farfetched; every now and then, politicians and government officials flaunt photos of the matriculation and the graduation of the children in first-class universities abroad and a very few in private universities back home unaffected by the perennial industrial actions by ASUU and other unions in tertiary institutions. They do this at the chagrin of abandoned Nigerian students back home who are forced out of school and their stay of four or five years elongated to over seven years due to ASUU strikes.
“HURIWA posits that the National Assembly must be resolute and make laws banning politicians from sending their wards overseas for studies so that all hands can be on the deck to resolve ASUU lingering crisis.
“Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb if ASUU strike is allowed to linger as there are connections between rising criminality and out-of-school students. The government must make hay while the sun shines.
“HURIWA has also warned that the strike would push thousands of students into such crimes like ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ and to be available for active recruitment to carry out terrorism. The continuous closure of public tertiary institutions is a grave threat to national security interests of Nigeria and must be brought to an end immediately.”