The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN, has decried the perceived inaction of the federal government regarding the nationwide strike of the Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, Senior Staff Academic of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
The three unions, cooperating under the aegis of the Joint Action Committee, JAC, have been on strike since the beginning of December, after the education minister, Adamu Adamu, failed to act on their expressed grievances over the sharing ratio of the N23 billion academic earned allowances, EA, released by the government.
This newspaper can report that the JAC had written Mr Adamu barely a week before they embarked on the strike, December 4, warning of industrial action should authorities not address their concerns over the EA to be shared 89:11 between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and them, that is the JAC.
But the minister only acknowledged their letter and called them for a meeting mid-December, after the strike had begun. It was too late.
In a statement by its president Saheed Ashafa on Thursday, the MSSN accused the government of paying poor to the striking workers.
“The presidency is not giving priority to the strike action and it is sending a bad perception about this administration,” said the MSSN. “In the first place, the strike is avoidable and needless. It is unpalatable to the hearing that a country like Nigeria still pays low attention to workers’ welfare.”
It continued: “The poor attention and undue silence of the Federal Government over the ongoing strike embarked upon by members of NASU, SSANU and NAAT are condemnable and highly demoralizing.
“It is understandable that children of majority of those leading the education agencies and ministries that should engage the striking workers are studying abroad, but that should not mean that the sons and daughters of the Nigerian masses should be made to suffer for developing interest in education”
“As we speak, some of our universities smell and stink, others have their libraries, health centres, powerhouses and other strategic facilities shut down. Students now live on university campuses like they are in the jungle.
This is pathetic and must be urgently addressed. We will not get the best from our workers if we continue to treat them like slaves; their commitment to work will be vacuous. Apart from having meetings with the striking workers, the generality of Nigerians deserves to know what the plans of the FG are in resolving this crisis and preventing subsequent ones.”
The MSSN, however, appealed to the workers to mind the students caught in the industrial dispute.
“It appears that the workers are fighting for their rights, but they should always remember that the students affected are their children. We plead with them not to allow the agitation for their rights to affect the whole essence of education in the country.”
The strike has led to disruption of vital services, such as library, laboratory, healthcare, water and electricity supplies, normally provided by the JAC members in Nigerian universities.
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