President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nasir Fagge, has said his union has learnt some useful lessons in the just suspended industrial dispute with the Federal Government.
“One lesson is that the union as a body of intellectuals has learnt to carry the public along in its struggles.
“It is the knowledge of truth that ensured that the public, students, their parents, and other well meaning Nigerians stay with us, supporting us, to ensure that what we were asking for was given to us,” Fagge told Daily Independent in a telephone interview shortly after the press conference where the six-month-old strike by the lecturers was formally called off.
The union suspended the industrial action after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting which ended at the permanent site of the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna.
The ASUU also called on the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) to prevail on some universities to conduct admission exercises for candidates who may have missed out due to the strike action by union members.
Addressing newsmen in Minna on Tuesday, Fagge, flanked by other members of the NEC, said the suspension was based on the union’s understanding that the Federal Government will not renege in keeping to the agreement entered with ASUU.
“We have undertaken to go back to the class rooms, laboratories to do our best for our students, their parents and our country, Nigeria,” said.
The ASUU chieftain who assured of the union’s preparedness to make up for the lost five months added: “We are returning to the classes with the firm hope that parents will take actual interest in their children’s condition of learning and living.”
“Strike is not the problems but how to ensure resolving issues on campuses is the problem. Nigerian public is aware of what was resolved between government and ASUU”, Fagge said when asked if members will down tools again in order to attract government attention.
The NEC meeting among others resolved to suspend the strike on the condition that it will consciously and diligently monitor the implementation of the Federal Government and ASUU resolution of December 11 in all its branches.
ASUU urged the Federal Government to facilitate the inauguration of the Implementation Monitoring Committee on report of the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities and ensure faithful compliance to the Needs Assessment Report due process.
“Let me use this forum to call on the FG that ASUU members do not suffer any loss of deserved benefits arising from the strike, specifically the unresolved issue of Earned Allowances will be settled through the Implementation Monitoring Committee as in the FGN-ASUU resolution,” Fagge said.
While insisting that going on strike is a necessary evil ASUU opted for to save the nation’s education sector, particularly the Nigerian university system, the union’s president argued that if sacrificing five months will bring the expected positive change then it is a worthwhile sacrifice.
“Finally, NEC resolved to suspend the strike embarked upon on, 1st July, 2013 with effect from Tuesday December, 17th, 2013 and directs its branches to resume work forthwith”, Fagge said, as he expressed appreciation of the union for the tremendous support from stakeholders.
The union, Fagge said, commends the support that Nigerian students gave the union just as it also appreciated the solidarity of the Nigeria Lanour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Senate Committee on Education, Senate President, David Mark, and President Goodluck Jonathan whose personally intervention.
While commending some individuals and groups, the ASUU president condemned some Vice Chancellors who made efforts to break the union’s strike.
He called on JAMB to prevail on some universities to conduct their admission for students who missed out due to the strike action, as not doing so would mean disenfranchising candidates the right to choose university.
“As a result of the strike action, universities that could not comply with the JAMB directives have been blacked out from admission, this is not fair to the universities concerned.
“Equally unjust is that the second choice preferences of the students are also being foreclosed by JAMB.
“For the sake of justice, as we suspend our strike, ASUU calls on JAMB to revisit the issue and allow universities affected to conduct their admission,” Fagge added.
And elated by the suspension of the ASUU strike, the Federal Government reiterated its commitment to implementing all the items of the resolution reached with the union.
Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, who reacted through his Special Assistant (Media), Simeon Nwakaudu, in Abuja said the resolution to invest N1.3 trillion in the revitalisation of infrastructure of all public universities in the country in the next six years will transform the nation’s universities to international centres of excellence.
He stated that the Jonathan administration more than any other previous administration has invested in the revival of basic and tertiary education in view of the fact that it considers education as a veritable source of empowering less privileged Nigerians to achieve their life ambitions.
Wike thanked all well-meaning Nigerians, the National Assembly, labour unions, traditional rulers, parents and students for demonstrating sufficient understanding of the Federal Government’s predicament while the dispute and the strike action by ASUU lasted.
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