The National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Nasir Fagge, has urged Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to honour the agreement it signed with the union.
Fagge told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone in Lagos that Nigerians should stop appealing to the union to call off its strike.
Fagge stressed that rather than prevailing on ASUU to call off the strike, Nigerians should look at its demands and see their relevance to national development.
“Why is it that when issues like this come up, Nigerians will start begging ASUU to call off strike in the interest of the children and the country in general, rather than prevailing on government.
“I want to state here that we have a lot of respect and appreciate the concern of all Nigerians who have prevailed on ASUU to reconsider its stand and call off the strike.
“But sincerely, I think if people really care about this country and want to move it forward, they should refocus their thinking to government and prevail on them to implement the agreement and then we can start from there.
“The National Assembly had in the time past appealed to us to bend over and we did in the interest of the country– while negotiations lasted– but look at what is happening now!“ he said.
The ASUU president noted that when the union embarked on strike in 2011 over the same demands, the same appeal came from concerned Nigerians, with the assurance that the matter would be looked into urgently and its demands met.
He said that because of the need to respect the views of these Nigerians and to keep the system going, the union called off the strike and that, unfortunately, nothing was done about it.
“We shall no longer be coerced into calling off the strike and returning to classes because the last time we had such a strike was in 2011– when I was the Vice-President– and two years after, we have embarked on another strike over the same issue.
“I think as a nation, there is need for us to try and do the right thing by way of extracting commitment from our leaders because we cannot continue this way.
“Our system is getting bad every day to the extent that when we go out with our certificates, it no longer commands the respect it ought to, and that is why we must do all we could to re-engineer the system.
“You know that if products from our universities continue to study with little or non-existent infrastructure in place, as it is obtained today, they will fail to deliver and the entire responsibility falls back on our shoulders, “ Fagge said.
According to him, ASUU is committed to deliver on its mandate in order to produce students who are well equipped and see them contribute positively to national development.
He noted that it was on this premise that Nigerians must prevail on government to do the right thing once and for all.
“Everyone knows that our universities cannot compete, even with universities within Africa, let alone those in the larger world.
“Today, we witness brain drain from thebsystem on the part of lecturers, thereby exporting values to other countries’ economy.
“We should ask ourselves why Nigerians before now did so well abroad in different fields of endeavour and these are products from the same system that currently produces graduates who are largely seen as unemployable.
“We must show commitment and be proactive in addressing the rot in our university system, so that at the end of the day, our products will be able to compete favourably with their counterparts in other climes, “ he said.
The ASUU boss then appealed to the Federal Government to implement the agreement in order for the country to move forward.
NAN reports that ASUU had on June 30, embarked on what it described as “total, comprehensive and indefinite strike“ in public universities across the country.
The lecturers were agitating the non-implementation of some sections of an agreement they entered into with the Federal Government in 2009.