Details of what made the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu walk out on students leaders led by the president of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS has emerged.
The meeting at the instance of the Minister was an impromptu arrangement to placate the protesting students who had barricaded the entrance of the Federal Ministry of Education, demanding immediate resolution of the crisis involving the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), according to Tribune.
The brief meeting had the Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed.
But Adamu who was visibly angry with the emotive presentation of the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Sunday Asefon, walked out of the meeting.
Asefon asked the minister to close down his office since he could not resolve the crisis between ASUU while lamenting the failure of the government to resolve the ASUU strike after several years.
He lamented that “ASUU strike is killing education more and more. This strike has been affecting our lives since 1999 and Nigerian students want to be part of the discussion between the federal government and ASUU dialogues to find a lasting solution to the matter.
“We want the federal government and ASUU to as a matter of urgency call off this strike while negotiation continues. We want to go back to classes, if not this will be more than #EndSars protest,” he said.
Trouble, however, exploded when in the course of the meeting, the students leadership questioned the minister for abandoning the education sector in a mess while sending their children to study abroad.
Adamu who was not happy over the attack on his person said he was “Disappointed with their comments” and stepped out of the conference room.
The leadership of NANS had on Monday, staged a nationwide protest calling the Federal Government to immediately negotiate to end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Union Staff (ASUU).
The protesters led by NANS President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, barricaded the entrance of the Federal Ministry of Education, preventing both workers and visitors from going in and coming out of the offices housed at the Ministry of Education building.
The students wielded placards with various inscriptions, urging the Federal Government to heed the cries of the students and reach an agreement with ASUU. Nigerian Tribune gathered that the protest is currently going on across the 36 states of the federation.
ASUU embarked on a one-month warning stike on the 14th of February 2022, over government unfaithfulness in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action it signed.
Some of ASUU’s demands include adequate funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, Universities Transparency Accountability Solutions (UTAS), promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU/FG agreement and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System Payment (IPPIS).
Just it was gathered that the leadership of ASUU and representatives of the Federal Government might meet on Tuesday, the students have vowed to continue the protest until the strike is called off.
NANS President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, in his speech during the protest, said the leaders in the country had enjoyed free quality education in the past but want to punish the current generation with disruption in the sector.
He said, “It is disheartening to note that the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) has gone on strike more than four years cumulatively since 1999.
The consequences of this development are grave on the part of the students who are the victim of these incessant industrial actions embarked upon by ASUU as a result of labour disagreement with the Federal Government. The resultant effect of these incessant strikes is inconsistency in scholarship, research, and learning output.
“At the end of every strike action, ASUU members get their salary, government officials and politicians get their pay, Ministers in charge of the Ministry of Education and his counterpart in the Ministry of Labour gets their pay and allowances for unproductive meetings with ASUU, but the students get nothing than the inability to get mobilized for NYSC as a result of age limitation, limited job opportunities as a result of age limitation, untimely death of students traversing the poor Nigerian roads unnecessarily, all as a result of incessant ASUU strike.
“It is more worrisome that most of the industrial actions could have been avoided if the government has been responsible enough to fulfil promises/agreements freely entered with ASUU over the years and fulfil their part of the bargain. A public tertiary institution in Nigeria has taken a downward slope in recent years and there is an urgent need to fix the system. Many students no longer trust the education outcome of our tertiary institutions as a result of the incessant strike and infrastructural neglect from the government.
“These developments account for the high level of migration of Nigerian students abroad in search of stable and quality education. Many of our students are currently trapped in war-ravaged Ukraine as a result of the incessant strike in our universities and lack of adequate infrastructural development. ”
He said the students are, therefore, compelled to take the following positions:
“That the Federal Government must as a matter of urgency honour every agreement freely entered with ASUU and renegotiate areas that need renegotiation in good faith with ASUU while we call on ASUU to be open-minded, progressive, and be realistic in their terms.
“Federal Government must do all it takes to convince ASUU to suspend its strike and return to the classroom immediately to ensure continuity in our academic calendar.”
They called on Federal Government to consider immediate and urgent investment in revitalizing public tertiary institutions in Nigeria to accommodate our growing population and the emerging needs of this century.
“We demand that Nigerian students who are the victim of the incessant ASUU strike must be represented in all negotiations between the Federal Government and ASUU.
“We also demand that government representatives and ASUU representatives at the negotiations must show proof that their children attended or attending a public university in Nigeria.
“We, therefore, plead with ASUU to call off the strike while they devise new means of holding the government accountable without necessarily going on strike,” he added.