EDUCATION: our interest is to fix the University system -- ASUU chairman UniZik By : Ifeanyi Okonkwo
Comrade Stephen Ufoarah Chairman Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU Nnamdi Azikiwe University (unizik) chapter in an interview explain the reason the three month strike by the union was called off last week.
According to him "It was the members of the union that voted for the strike to be called off in order to give government the benefit of doubt on the promises they made.
"Being petrotic citizens and considering the fact that we have received several cries from both parents and students and to prove that we are not pushing our personal interest but the collective interest of Nigerians and the University education in particular, we heded to the cry of the public.
"We want the public to see that we are petrotic Nigerians and we would not want to run the system down. We are fighting for a system that will serve all of us and the future generations.
"As we speak now, some of our members have are yet to receive alert and these was why some members were reluctant. But we decided to let go and call off the strike because we don't want to been seen as been selfish.
"If government fails to fulfill these agreement, then we may go back and call the attention of the world to bear us witness that we have given government a benefit of doubt.
"our interest is to fix the University system and to satisfy our conscience. We don't want to conclude that government is not trustworthy. It is in their position now to prove if they are trust worthy or not.
On the solution to ending strike actions in university which is becoming an annual ritual, the ASUU boss said
"The only solution to our struggle is change in leadership. Until we have leaders that are cencere in developing our human capacity and a government that have to develop our educational system, the leadership that will increase the percentage on education which is as low as seven percent. These percentage covers both primaries, secondary and tertiary institutions compromising of polytechnics and collage of education. Until then, things will not change.
Ufoaroh also suggested that more investment should be made on education system to equip Young Minds to compete with other minds across the world. Until this is done, strike remains the last solution that ASUU will always embark on.
"We cannot keep quiet and watch few individuals squander our common wealth. We are the voice of the voiceless and intellectuals.we will always speak out by holding government accountable.
On the reason why they union waited to just days to the general election before calling off the strike, he said "As a union, we are not partisan politicians. We did not consider the election as a reason. It was on a mutual consent and understanding with government.
It was a hug turn out on the first day of resumption but no lectures were held as most of the students seen in the school premises are newly admitted students who were busy with their registration. Comrade Ufoaroh added by saying
"as a university, we have not resumed academic section properly. The students are not expected to return now because some of them are still very far and it will be save if they stay back with their parents especially as the general election approches for security reasons.
"About seven hundred staff of these university are involved with electoral processes. Even if the students are around now, many of the lecturers will not be available to lecture them.
"The University in its wisdom felt that we could resume so that some of us could tidy our offices and a lot of memos have not attended too by Head of departments and Dean's of facilities.
"Lectures will commence officially after the governorship election. We have not asked students to come back because lectures will not be holding until March, we wouldn't want them to indulge into bad vices or be used for political thuggery which the school will be blamed if anything bad happens.
"We need to train our young once and discover their potentials in terms of academic posuit. If the percentage on education is increased to atlist fifteen to twenty percent, some of these strikes will not come up because the budget will take care of some of the efficiencies in the educational system.
"Unfortunately, the political class are interested in other things, little or nothing is left for the education system.