Worried by the continuous strike by university teachers, aggrieved students, parents and stakeholders have called for the sack of the education minister, Adamu Adamu, saying his tenure is the worst so far in the history of the nation’s tertiary education.
They queried Adamu’s role in the negotiation process since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced on February 14 and insisted that the education minister has been insensitive to the plight of university students who have been at the receiving end over the years.
Some of the students in an interview with The Guardian appealed to the Federal Government to meet at least 50 per cent of ASUU demands to end the strike.
A 300-level student of the University of Lagos, Mathew Nwosu, said the ongoing strike was impacting negatively on the plans of Nigerian students.
He said although he enrolled for a five-year programme in 2017, he was still in the first semester of the third year because of ASUU’s incessant strike and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nwosu lamented that some of his mates who left Nigeria to study abroad have graduated, while some are in their final year.
“You don’t expect students who spent most of their time on strike and who also studied without properly equipped laboratories to come out with good grades or become experts in their fields.
“I am appealing to the Federal Government to meet ASUU halfway in the interest of teeming Nigerian youths.
Similarly, a 200-level student of the University of Calabar, Jenniffer Nwosisi, said the ongoing strike has setback her studies.
Already, Nwosisi said the action was leading some students into crime.
“Honestly, I am very sad and frustrated. My two siblings and I have been at home since February14 and our rent for this year would soon expire without being in school. My greatest fear is that some of us have gone into crimes… They are into theft, raping and consumption of hard drugs.
“I am appealing to the Federal Government and ASUU to sheathe their sword, consider our future and call off the strike so that we can go back to school,” Nwosisi pleaded.
ASUU Chairman at the Abia State University, Mr. victor Nkemdirim, attributed the strike to failure of successive governments to honour agreement reached with the union.
Nkemdirim lamented that government had always reneged on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with lecturers.
He stated that since the founding of some public universities, government`s presence had been minimal, except for projects embarked on by the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which came about as a result of ASUU’s agitations.
Nkemdirim said if not for ASUU’s continued struggles, most of the states and federal universities would have gone under by now.
He also recalled that ASUU had continued to oppose the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), because it contravenes university autonomy.
“ASUU was asked to develop a platform that is congenial to the university system and it came up with University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which in all tests, including the integrity test, scored 99.7 per cent pass mark.
In the same vein, parents and stakeholders have called for the immediate sack of the education minister for his poor handling of the crisis between the Federal Government and ASUU.
They wondered where Adamu is while Labour minister, Chris Ngige dialogue with the aggrieved university teachers.
Meanwhile, ASUU has given fresh conditions to suspend it over four months strike.
National President of the union, Prof. Emmanuel Osedeke, said the strike would continue unless the government accepts UTAS and honour the 2009 agreement.
“Let government tell us they have finished testing the UTAS and sign the agreement, then tomorrow, we will call off the strike. We challenge the government, when would it sign the agreement? When would it accept UTAS? These are the two questions we should ask Nigerian government.”
Osodeke said their demands are in the interest of Nigerian students who are learning under unconducive environment.
“Go to Ghana there or South Africa and see if you can compare them – that is our struggle – We call ourselves the giants of Africa. We are simply waiting for government to sign the agreement – Once that is done, we will call off the strike.”
ASUU has been at loggerheads with the Federal Government over the years for its refusal to honour the 2009 agreement it entered with the union.
Some of the demands include reviewing condition of service of lecturers every five years, revitalisation of public universities, and adoption of UTAS.