By Victor Ogunje
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has appealed to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to intervene in the impasse between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), for speedy resolution.
NANS, through its President, Sunday Asefon, regretted the long strike by ASUU for almost 12 months, describing it as the height of insensitivity to the development of education sector in the country.
Asefon stated this yesterday when he paid a courtesy visit to the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in his office in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
The students’ leader had complained about the annual reduction in the national budget for education, urging Fayemi to use the platform of the NGF to appeal to the Ministers of Education, and Labour and Employment, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Chris Ngige respectively, and ASUU to conclude negotiation so that students would resume academic activities before the end of the year.
The NANS’ president, while disclosing plan of his association to visit Katsina State over the recent abduction of secondary school Students from Kankara, highlighted “the need to ensure maximum security within and around campuses in the country.
“I am pleading with the NGF through its Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to help us talk to ASUU to be patriotic enough and think of the future of this country, and return to work, while the federal government too must do what it is supposed to do to save the education sector from collapse.”
In his response, Fayemi charged NANS to focus more on championing causes that would improve the standard of education and welfare of students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, and not be distracted by other sundry interests.
Responding also to the request made by the NANS leadership to NGF to intervene in the nine months strike, Fayemi disclosed that the state governors in the country are committed to ensuring that ASUU and the federal government meet the deadline of returning students to school before the end of the year.
The NGF chairman said the governors were passionate about the need to re-open the universities, adding that the governors have been intervening in bringing the lecturers and the federal government together even after they had gone apart in their negotiation.
According to him, “We will still get them to meet the deadline of returning students to school before the end of the year, because it is our collective interest-not in your interest as students-but our interest as governors and leaders of our people, as there is a direct correlation between idleness on one hand and nefarious activities on the other hand.”
Fayemi also stressed the need for NANS to prioritise and strengthen its Secretariat by setting up a policy and advocacy research centre that would enable it to independently gather data and verify information on issues of concern to the body in order to drive its negotiation ability with people in power.
The Ekiti State governor also advised NANS secretariat to have a directorate for research and policy that would serve as an empowered, informed and strong back up for the students’ body.
The governor, who said he was impressed by the way other contestants accompanied Asefon to the state to present his letter of appreciation, implored stakeholders at the meeting to continue to stay together and demonstrate that a new and better Nigeria that will bring every tribe, religion and ethnic together is possible.