ASUU Strike, Others: Our Youths Are Losing Their Active, Creative Years - NCFront Warns - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

ASUU Strike, Others: Our Youths Are Losing Their Active, Creative Years - NCFront Warns

•••Calls On FG To Convene Education Confab To Address Varsities' Workers' Strike



The Daily Crucible | Sunday, April 24, 2022

Leaders of the 3rd Force Movement under the auspices of the National Consultative Front, NCFront, on Sunday expressed concern that Nigerian youths were losing their active and creative years to the ongoing strikes by workers at the nation's public universities.

The 3rd Force Movement leaders also lamented that parents too were agonizing seeing their children, wards and resources waste away due to strike while children of most top government officials attended private universities or studied abroad uninterrupted.

They, therefore, called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to immediately find lasting solution in resolving the issues associated with the ongoing Universities Workers' (ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT) strikes which commenced with an Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU ) warning strike in February 2022.

The leaders said they made the call in the overriding interest of the nation as well as students, parents, academic and non- teaching staff, who had been affected directly by the avoidable strike.

In a statement on Sunday by Dr Tanko Yunusa, NCFront Head of Public Affairs Bureau, he noted that it was the group's view that the issues concerning the public universities could be resolved, if government came to the table with sincerity of purpose by recognizing the problems and showing willingness to fix them.

He added that the bedrock of modern nation building rests on education, warning that any country that trivializes it, clearly threads on a path to failure.

The statement reads, "Our youths in public universities are losing their most active and creative years due to no fault of theirs, while their parents are undergoing a painful agony of witnessing their children and resources waste away under their very noses. Sadly, the children of most top government officials attend private universities or study abroad; they do not feel the distress and torment of the ordinary parents which we continue to call for a law mandating State actors their nuclear families to attend only Nigerian institutions while in office  In addition, the government is also wasting our national resources because by the end of the strike, all academic staff and non-teaching staff that are mostly inactive now would still receive their salaries.

"The bedrock of modern nation building is education and any country that trivializes it, is clearly on a path to failure. It is therefore regrettable that the Federal Government continues to be aloof to its responsibilities by undermining the issues associated with Collective  Agreements with the University based unions which has become a vicious cycle for decades. These concerns are not insurmountable; however, it requires a symbiotic relationship between Government and all critical stakeholders in the education sector to resolve them amicably.

"Let us begin by isolating indisputable facts that are trite. The unions have an avalanche of genuine demands; and these demands are increasing from year to year due to Government's reneging or failing to address the issues in a timely manner. There have been recent meetings or dialogue sessions between Government, led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, and the unions which ended in deadlocks, probably due to past experiences of Government failure to honour agreements reached.

"It is our view that the issues concerning the public universities can be resolved, if government comes to the table with sincerity of purpose by recognizing the problems and show willingness to fix them. It is known to all concerned that the main concerns of the unions since the 1980s are no more than the inadequate funding of the university system, decaying and overstretched infrastructural facilities, conditions of service (salary and non-salary), autonomy and academic freedom, brain drain, and the survival of the university system. The current spate of strikes also revolve around some of these same issues and governments' failure to honour previous Collective Agreements. And for how long would our nation continue to suffer from the pains of such insincerity and incapacity?

"The Leadership of the 3rd Force Mega Movement under the auspices of NCFront therefore pleads with all key stakeholders that are relevant to the resolution of the ongoing strike action to reconsider and prioritize the pains and agony of our youths and parents affected by this unfortunate situation and make every effort to resolve this impasse as quickly as possible so that our students can return to their educational and life pursuits. 

"We have come to a point in our country, where the federal and state governments, students, parents and all relevant stakeholders must lay their concerns, challenges and missed opportunities on the table so that we can collectively fashion out a long-term solution to prevent these incessant but avoidable strikes. 

"Therefore, beyond calling off the current strike, NCF also strongly recommends that the federal government takes a leadership step in proactively instituting a nationwide EMERGENCY on our university and indeed tertiary education system and initiate an open and sincere dialogue in the manner of an Education CONFAB, where all critical stakeholders in this sector are present: Government (Federal and State), the Unions, NUC, Labour, Student and Parent-body representations, Private University representatives, Education financing institutions and education foundation representatives, etc.

"NCF would be advocating for a win-win situation where all critical stakeholders and the citizenry can be made to understand the real or imagined challenges to government funding of our university education, the need, benefits or challenges to research, curriculum, autonomy, as well as a need for appropriate strategic and systemic review. We should be able to learn from the experiences of other nations and factor these into the discussions at the Confab.

"In addition, government must begin to demonstrate visible forthrightness and genuine willingness to solve the challenges in our social fabric by ensuring that it is careful and prudent in the expenditure of our national resources. The waste and personal aggrandizement that is going on in government is alarming and unacceptable by all standards. 

"A situation where every citizen now has to cut their coats according to their cloth, while government is not seen to be doing the same (for example it still operates a huge and superfluous fleet of presidential aircrafts and recently approved huge billions for the renovation of the National Assembly complex) does not engender confidence in the citizenry that government is doing its best to deploy resources to productive use and  save resources to fund education.

"It is our hope that the Education Confab as proposed would come up with critical resolutions that should alter current policies and laws in a way that would prevent University based Unions' strikes in the foreseeable future. Our dream is to build a nation in which every citizen shall be free and educated, healthy and prosperous."



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