Federal government has enjoined the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to reconsider the plights of Nigerian students who have stayed at home for six months and suspend the industrial action .
The minister of state for education, Hon Goodluck Nanah Opiah, made the call in Owerri while speaking with journalists. Opiah maintained that the federal government had met all the demands made by ASUU, but noted that the only outstanding issue is the government’s “no work no pay” policy.
He said, “ASUU should consider the plight of our children and return to school. A lot of us have our children in public universities here and the lecturers also have their children in schools in Nigeria. We don’t feel happy to return home each day and see that the schools are still locked, and I wonder how the lecturers whose children are in public universities feel when they return home each day and see that their children are still at home.
“The Ministry of Education is critical. It is a large ministry that has so much in stock for the future of this country. The education sector is a very critical one and this government takes this seriously. That was why the government had to bend backwards to settle all the grey areas made by ASUU. What is the issue now is that the government insists that it cannot pay for the six months the lecturers did not go to work. The policy of ‘No Work No Pay’ is a global practice and not a witch hunt of the lecturers.”
Speaker further he said, “I think we cannot afford to set the wrong precedents by paying people who stayed at home for six months. How do we compensate the students for all the days the lectures were at home if we compensate the lecturers by paying them? If we can answer this question, that will help. However, I plead with the lecturers to please return to school”.
According to him, the ASUU strike was an unfortunate and avoidable one saying “ASUU strike is an unfortunate one, an avoidable one. It does no good to the future of our children and the country. No doubt, lecturers have a right to make demands, the federal government has since engaged the situation and we are in talks with the lecturers. Today, all grey areas have been settled, except that the lecturers are asking that the six months they have been on strike should be laid for. But the Federal Government said no, that the ‘No Work No Pay’ policy is a universal policy.
However, the minister expressed optimism that with the recent suspension of strike by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and other Associated Institutions (NASU), the industrial action by ASUU would soon be over.