Tuesday, February 9, 2021

NANS Laments Over NASU, SSANU Strike

National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has expressed concern over the ongoing strike by the non- academic staff in the public universities, saying such incessant Industrial action by workers can Collapse the University system in the country.

The collapse university  system according to NANS, could escalate the rising cases of cultism, kidnapping ,robbery and other criminal activities in the society.

President of the students apex body in Nigeria, Comrade Sunday Asefon who expressed  the concern in a statement on Monday, described the strike as more of ego and muscle flexing rather than advocacy for a better Welfare package, between  the Non -Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who  suspended their strike less than 30days ago .

His words,“NANS is of the humble  that unions can advocate for the welfare of their members, but such shouldn’t be by ego, muscle flexing and rivalry, the way academic and non academic unions in our universities have been exhibiting"

NASU and SSANU  began the joint nationwide strike over the weekend to compel the Federal Government to meet their demands including constitution of visitation panels for universities,payment of arrears of minimum wage and addressing inconsistencies in IPPIS payment.

Other contentious issues by the striking non-academic staff  are non-payment of earned allowances; non-payment of retirement benefits to retirees; poor funding of state universities; delay in renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU 2009 agreements; and teaching staff usurping of headship of non-teaching units in clear violation of conditions of service.

The National Leadership of the two unions had mandated their respective branches to hold crucial meetings today (Tuesday) which will be collated and form basis for discussion at a rescheduled meeting with the Federal Government on Thursday.

Asefon in the statement, entitled: ‘The Incessant Strikes in Nigerian universities and Urgent Need to Save The Nation’s Ivory Towers’, asked the unions to explore  their coming roundtable discussion with government, warning that penchant for strike  has the capacity of destroying the education system.

He expressed with sadness, the wasteful long period of strike by the academic staff, urging the striking non-academic staff to consider the  students who lost  whole academic session at home to the adverse effect of Covid 19 and ASUU’s strike.

Asefon lamented that the ongoing strike would destabilise and demoralise the students.

NANS assured the Non-Academic of the  government's readiness to address the issue of visitation panel to Universities as well as other contending issues.

“We have it on good authority that on the issue of visitation panel, the panels have been constituted and inauguration shall be done immediately academic activities stabilise in the universities bearing in mind this Covid 19.

“While on the non-payment of arrears of minimum wage, the meeting was informed that officers of the Accountant General of the Federation have computed the arrears of minimum wage for all workers in tertiary institutions from April 2019 to January last year.

“It was also revealed that the amount has been captured and forwarded to the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation and is to be included in the supplementary budget to be presented to the National Assembly for approval and payment.

NANS urged the unions to continue to dialogue with government, despite its previous record of insincerity of implementing agreement.

“Even while doubting the credibility of our government to implement or be sincere with all these, we believe that everything could have been subjected to further negotiation.

Asefon is worried over the effect of the strike on students ,making it difficult for them to access their respective classrooms for academic activities

“As we speak, students in many of the universities that just resumed for 2020/2021 academic session cannot complete their registration while those that had started have been finding it difficult to access lecture theatres that were under lock and key.

“It is unpatriotic on the side of the government and our unions to subject the country’s future leaders to these academic rigours and agonies. They should please have pity on the students and parents and return to schools immediately.

“We call for restraint and beg our unions to allow further negotiation and suspend further strike in the interest of these promising future leaders,” he said.

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