On Thursday the 12th of November, the Student Union Presidents of Universities in the South-West Region of Nigeria held a press conference to state their positions on the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike and the way forward.
Recall that members of ASUU declared an indefinite strike in March, following the lecturers’ disagreement with the federal government’s move to implement the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the implementation of existing agreements between ASUU-FGN.
At the press conference were Akeju Olusegun of University of Ibadan (UI), Oloyede Abiodun of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Wisdom Okoko of University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Olabiyi Olamide of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso (LAUTECH) and Michael Awoyemi of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye (OOU). Also present were Obakunle Oluwamayowa, Chairman of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Joint Campus Committee (JCC) Oyo State Axis and Shittu Ridwan, General Secretary National Association of University Students (NAUS).
The student leaders at the press conference frowned at the handling of the strike and the education sector at large, which has truncated the academic sojourn of many Nigerian students. Here, they presented their demands to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Their demands were:
Immediate End to the Incessant ASUU Strike
Representing the Students Union Presidents, Oloyede Abiodun of FUNAAB called for a compromise to be reached by both parties:
“We, the great Students of the Federation hereby request for an end to the on-going strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.”
Adequate Funding for the Education Sector
Wisdom Okoko, quoting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), showed his displeasure at the low funding of the education sector in Nigeria:
“According to UNESCO, it is recommended that developing nations should allocate 15-20 per cent of their national budget to education. However, in Nigeria, the budgetary allocation for education [in] the last five years has been less than 10 per cent.
“Among others, the Nigeria universities system has been faced with poor educational infrastructures, inadequate classrooms, teaching aids, paucity of quality teachers and poor learning environment.”
Prioritizing Education as a Key to Sustainable Growth and Development
The Student Union presidents urged the government to make the welfare of Nigeria students its “top priority” by forming a committee comprising all Student Union leaders across the Federation, and representatives of the government.
“The future of our nation depends largely on quality education. If we must progress and see a better Nigeria, then we must be progressive and be better in words and actions.”
Seven-Day Ultimatum To Resolve The Crisis
After making their position and demands known, the student union leaders gave the federal government a seven-day ultimatum to end the strike. Their statement:
“In lieu of the above, we hereby give the federal government the ultimatum of seven days to resolve the crisis and get us back to school else there would be an aggressive nation agitation thereafter.”
Akeju Oluwasegun added that the agitation would be well planned for effectiveness: “FG has the money, and what is asking for is not totally out of place. They just cherish the government buildings more than the education of Nigerian students. All legal means of agitation would be used. We would start having meetings to plan the nationwide agitation of students.”
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