… As Buhari again, appeals to ASUU to call off strike***
Some parents in the FCT have called on the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to reach a workable agreement to enable their children to resume school.
Some of the affected parents, who spoke in separate interviews with the newsmen in Abuja, said the strike was having a negative impact on their children and appealed for speedy resolution.
Newsmen recall that ASUU had on Monday, extended the strike by 12 weeks which brings it to 20 weeks the students will stay at home over the failure of the government and the union to reach a workable agreement.
The union through its President, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke had embarked on a nationwide warning strike from Feb. 14 to press home its demands, stressing that the action would continue until their demands were met.
The lecturers’ are demanding funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
However, Mr Silas Lagi, a parent in Gwagwalada Area Council, whose child is studying veterinary medicine at the University of Abuja, said that the strike had made his son shift focus to other things that he did not budget for.
Lagi said, “If politicians and government appointees, some of who are also in the education sector can purchase nomination forms worth N100 million, then there is something wrong with this country.
“After each episode of strike, the children are no more focused and they end up not graduating within the stipulated years.
“My only pain is that the people in government are not feeling it because their own children are not in public schools but abroad or in private schools,” he said.
A parent in Abaji Area Council, Mr Musa Gimba said the parents’ appeal was for the government to listen to the union and reach an agreement to save the future generation.
“If the senators can have sitting and sleeping allowances, then the builders of these characters should be considered; they are the lecturers.
“The Federal Government should listen to the demands of the striking union so that our children can go back to school,” Gimba said.
Mrs Julian David, a parent in Kwali Area Council, said her son is a final year student at Nasarawa State University studying law “but cannot graduate because of the lingering strike’’.
“I am seriously appealing to the relevant authorities on behalf of parents to end the strike and make education a top priority and save the sector from imminent collapse.
“The Federal Government must at all costs meet the demands of the union to save the future of our children,” she said.
Meanwhile, the union during its last National Executive Council (NEC) meeting noted that it was disappointed that the government had not treated the matter with utmost urgency as expected of a reasonable, responsive, and well-meaning administration.
In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari has again appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to consider the plight of students and call off the ongoing strike.
The president also urged students in Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions to exercise patience as the government strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the available resources
Buhari made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at the 19th National Productivity Day and the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) on 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors, for their high productivity, hard work and excellence.
The president recalled that he had earlier directed the Chief of Staff, Ministers of Labour and Employment; Education; and Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to again critically look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU and other university-based labour unions.
On the theme of this year’s celebration ‘‘Achieving Higher Productivity through Improved Education System,’’ the president pledged that the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to uplift the standard of the educational system in the country.
According to Buhari, his administration recognises that the future of any nation is contingent on the standard of its educational system.
‘‘Therefore, if we desire to transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy, improving our educational system should be accorded the highest priority,” he said.
He highlighted notable achievements in the educational sector including the drastic reduction of the number of out of school children from 10.1 million in 2019 to 6.9 million in 2020, automatic employment for graduates of education and a review of the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, among others.
He further explained that his administration had reviewed the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, while years of service had been moved from 35 to 40 years to encourage more graduates to join the teaching profession.
Similarly, the president said the government had also approved a special salary scale for teachers in Basic and Secondary schools.
These, he said, included the provisions for rural posting allowance, Science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance, while prioritising timely promotion and prompt payment of salaries.
According to the president, the reintroduction of bursary awards to education students in universities and Colleges of Education comes with an assurance of automatic employment upon graduation as well as payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students.
‘‘Quality educational system is good not just for the national economy; it is also good for the citizens.
‘‘Ignoring the productivity dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty and social exclusion.
‘‘It will be difficult to improve our economic performance and overall productivity, without improving our educational system.
‘‘Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system,’’ he said.
While congratulating all the awardees for their various accomplishments and well-deserved recognition, the president said they had been carefully selected from a multitude of competitors, saying ‘‘this award should spur you to greater heights.’’
The president commended the Chairman and members of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award Committee, including the management and staff of the National Productivity Centre for a job well done.
He urged the recipients of the merit award and Nigerians to make productivity their watchword.
In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, said since the inception of the award in 1991, 382 individuals and 97 organisations have been honoured with the NPOM.
Dr Stella Adadevoh and Mr Babatunde Lawal received posthumous awards at the 2019/2020 edition of the National Productivity Day.
Adadevoh, who died on Aug. 19, 2014, was recognised for her outstanding performance in the fight against the spread of the Ebola virus in the country while Lawal, who until his death on Nov. 6, 2020, served as Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Affairs Office.
Lawal, an economist by training with bias in fiscal policy analysis, management and strategic planning, was commended for his ‘‘thoroughness and paying keen attention to every detail’’ during his tenure as permanent secretary in the Federal Civil Service.
Other recipients include the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Abdullahi Adamu; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; and immediate past Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chike Ihekweazu.
Other recipients are; Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi; Chairman and Founder, BUA Group, Abdusamad Rabiu; Chairman of Globacom, Mike Adenuga Jnr; Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director-General of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO); and Allen Onyema, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, among others.