The face-off between striking university lecturers and the Federal Government took a new twist yesterday, as some lecturers rallied at Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, at Ile-Ife and Osun State University, UNIOSUN, Osogbo, in bids to sensitise members of the public to the union’s demands from the Federal Government and implementation of agreements reached in 2009.
While some OAU teachers marched through streets of Ile-Ife, lecturers from Osun State University held their rally at the newly constructed Freedom Square at Old Garage, Osogbo.
The striking lecturers from the two institutions, who condemned the action of the Federal Government for attempting to politicise the demands of ASUU over the agreement reached with the former, held the rallies peacefully and under Police protection.
Chairman of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, branch of ASUU, Dr. Adegbola Akinola in his address said the Federal Government was yet to fulfill agreements reached with the leadership of the union.
According to him, the sensitization rally was in compliance with the directive from the National Secretariat of the union, stressing that the government has not been faithful with the agreement reached with the union.
Akinola maintained that the government was not transparent over ASUU’s demands, declaring that the union’s position was to sanitise the tertiary education sector.
Also speaking at the Ile-Ife rally which started at the Oduduwa Hall of the institution, Dr. Amos Adeoye Idowu from the Department of Public Law said that the enlightenment rally was to ensure that tertiary institutions in the country were funded the way they should, saying that “we are saying no to bastardization of tertiary educational system as was done to primary and secondary education system.
“We are covered by the law which gives Nigerians the right to express their minds. We are out to claim civil and political rights by educating members of the public on why ASUU is on nationwide strike so that government will be proactive in taking care of education in the country.
“We are looking for a situation whereby the government runs away from wastage. What we are saying is that government should give tertiary institution priority attention. We don’t want a situation whereby our youths get out of schools without job”, he said.
On his part, Dr. Abiona Joseph, chairman, Osun State University branch of ASUU expressed worry that majority of Nigerians have been misinformed by the blackmail from the government.
He said that the rally was to “educate the people on what is actually happening and correct the impression by the people that ASUU rejected the offers of government”.
In his reaction to the appeal made by President Jonathan urging ASUU members to be patriotic and call off the strike, the ASUU Ibadan Zonal chairman, Adesola Nasir, said that President Jonathan can’t be urging ASUU members to be patriotic because “patriotism is about helping your country move forward and ensuring equal welfare of the citizens.
He said: “Rather than appealing to sentiments, government should do what it is supposed to do by adequately funding education sector. Appealing to sentiments can’t put our universities on global ranking neither would it fix the decay in the system. By asking us to be patriotic and call off the strike, the President is asking us to continue to churn out unemployable graduates.”
Speaking in the same vein, the National Secretary, Education Rights Campaign, Mr. Michael Ogundele, said the President’s appeal reveals that there’s nothing positive to expect from this administration.
“Government is neither ready to recognise nor implement the 2009 agreement. The ERC is urging the general public to mount pressure to do the right thing and fund education.”