Posted by Charles Iwuoha, Enugu | 23 January 2019 | 971 times
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to boycott the forthcoming general elections slated for February 16 and March 2 if the lingering dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is not resolved.
NANS Director of External Affairs, Zone B and leader of the students’ body in Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Mr Chukwunonso Onwe, issued the threat at a press briefing with newsmen in Abakaliki on Tuesday.
He called on the Federal Government to expeditiously address the grievances of the University teachers to bring to an end the over three months old nationwide strike.
He said that the Nigerian students are the greatest victims of the current face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU and warned that students would not afford to sit on the fence any more.
He advised the parties to show enough commitment to on-going negotiations aimed at resolving the disputes to pave way for students to go back to school.
He said that Nigerian students would boycott the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for February 16 as well as the governorship and state Houses of Assembly holding in March 2 as way of registering their protest.
According to him, the apex students’ union body has begun process of mobilising students in various government owned universities and campuses to achieve the goal.
“The leadership of NASS, under my watch here in Ebonyi, hereby warn against further delay in ensuring expeditious resolution of the current face-off between government and ASUU and the implementation of the lecturers demand to end the strike permanently.
“The entire Nigerian students will boycott the forthcoming general elections if government does not take concrete actions to urgently end the strike so that students can go back to school and continue with their academic activities.
“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly to save the nation's university education by addressing the lingering crisis and stop incessant industrial disharmony in the sector,” Onwe said.
Onwe, a third year Law student of Ebonyi State University (EBSU) also warned that NANS would picket all institutions of higher learning in Nigeria owned by former Presidents or Vice Presidents as part of its planned nationwide students protest.
“We shall also embark on a mass action and picket the private universities and other tertiary institutions owned by these individuals and their firms so that students in these institutions will be made to stay at home.
“When we do this and achieve a total shut-down of all tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the leaders will know that we are not animals but human beings.”
The students' leader who bemoaned the state of higher education in Nigeria said that ASUU demand for better funding of universities was to improve on the falling standard of university education in the country.
“We support the lecturers in their demand which is centred on improved funding to promote academic research, develop infrastructures and achieve better teaching and learning environment.
“The N220 billion being demanded by ASUU as part of the N1.1 trillion demand is not so much that the Federal Government cannot meet even as the union has shifted position and agreed on quarterly tranche payment of the N220 billion.
“We stand by ASUU, we call on eminent patriotic Nigerians to support ASUU and urge the Federal Government to urgently honour its earlier agreement with the union to end this inglorious face-off,” he added.
The national leadership of ASUU declared an indefinite nation-wide strike on November 4 to press home its demand.
Specifically, the union accused the government of not implementing the Memorandum of Action signed with it, declaring that the strike would be total as all federal and state univarsities would join the strike.
The union made the announcement through its National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, after their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State on Sunday, November 4.
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