WorldStage NewsOnline—- The Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Unions (NASU) on Monday began a nationwide warning strike.
The non-teaching university workers under the aegis of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) are protesting non-implementation of an agreement they entered into with the Federal Government in 2009, among other issues.
Following the development, the former Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, and the Second Deputy National President, National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, have called for a lasting industrial harmony in universities.
Obaji said that universities, together with the Federal Government and the general public, must seek ways to ensure production of quality graduates to boost the country’s economy.
“I think this infighting between labour unions and the Federal Government must be reviewed now to give room for serious work in re-engineering and repositioning academic activities in our ivory towers,” he said.
According to her, it is high time the `embarrassing’ quality of graduates churned out annually by universities should bother education stakeholders.
“We should stop all these back and forth issues and concern ourselves more with how to produce quality graduates that will one day be leaders of this country.
“Quality education remains the key driver of any country’s economy, and this can only work if we come together as a people and find a way of achieving this, rather than this strike all the time.
“Perhaps it should worry us the more that it was discovered recently that some persons who ought to be mobilised for the NYSC were allegedly unable to read the English alphabets,” she said.
Obaji said Nigerians must task themselves on quality service delivery in their various capacities.
Commenting, Ogunbanjo said that strikes in the university system had become too many, urging urgent interventions to save the system from collapse.
According to him, the Federal Government should adequately tackle issues relating to strikes in the education sector.
He said that strikes had impacted negatively on the entire university system, noting that students were usually at the receiving end.
“The moment it tries to seek a way out to reach a common ground with one labour union in the system, it is only natural that the other one will feel cheated, and so tries to make its own demands.
“So, if government feels that only a certain labour union in the system deserves something, it should come out and defend its action, and if not, it should tell them as it is, once and for all.
“ Should there be the need for a negotiation, it should be done with parties concerned, with all commitment and sincerity of purpose,’’ the NAPTAN boss said.
Meanwhile the National President of SSANU, Mr Samson Ugwoke, said that members of the unions had been fully mobilised to ensure total compliance to the five-day warning strike.
“We are fully ready for the strike, and there is no going back on that.
“The strike is going to be total from Monday, Aug. 19, to Friday, Aug. 23.
“We had given the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum to meet our demands, but it elapsed with nothing coming forth from the side of government.
“From Monday, therefore, we shall embark on this warning strike, and if nothing meaningful comes out of it, we will stategise to embark on an indefinite, comprehensive and total nationwide strike,’’ the unionist warned.
According to him, our members are still open to further negotiations with government before the end of the warning strike.
Ugwoke, also the President of the JAC, appealed to education stakeholders to prevail on the Federal Government to meet JAC’s demands.