Lecturers in Gombe State University have called on the federal and state governments to make use of the opportunity provided by the one week warning strike, to address the issues that led to it.
Speaking to journalists in Gombe, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in the Gombe State University, Dr. Lawal Oladimeji, said the union wanted community and traditional leaders to prevail on the government to address the issues in the universities.
Dr. Oladimeji said the university lecturers embarked on the one week warning strike, because governments at the Federal and state level were poorly implementating the agreements made in 2009 it signed with ASUU and another Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2013.
He said they were specifically agitating for the Funding for the Revitalisation of Public Universities, based on the 2013 agreement.
They are also concerned about the non-release of subvention to state universities; registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Company; Payment of Earned Academic Allowances; payment of full salaries and not fractions of staff salaries; payment of salaries in staff primary schools, as well as exemption of universities from the Treasury Single Account policy and the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement.
Dr. Oladimeji said the government should begin to address some of the issues that were not money driven, such as the approval for the registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Company.
He said the government needed to be registered as a Pension company for universities, which have controlling shares in it, making it compete with other private pension companies.
Dr. Oladimeji said the Gombe State University Chapter of the Union has had its own demands with the state, which are included in the demands by the national body.
“In Gombe State University, as a result of expansion in both the academic programmes and student enrollment, there is need for an upward review and timely release of subvention, construction/provision of additional facilities for both staff and students to aid teaching and learning; institutionalisation of training fund in order to enhance capacity building of staff and payment of outstanding Earned Academic Allowances,” said Dr. Oladimeji.
Mood on campus
At the campus in Gombe State University, which is just resuming from their holidays and new students starting registration, some of the students were seen moving about aimlessly, while some relaxed under the various shades on the campus and others have been reported to have gone home for the one week.
Some of the students still on the campus, who spoke with Voice of Nigeria, expressed their sadness at the development.
They called on both the government and the lecturers to consider their plight and reverse the action, which they said had become a tradition over the years.
“Evelyn Yohanna is a four hundred Level Student of Biology, says it is inconvenient for them, because they are just resuming from a holiday and expecting some visiting lecturers to come to the university, which may not be possible after the one-week warning strike is over.
We are just coming in and then this will draw us back because it will take us time after coming in before meeting up with the handouts that were being given,” said Miss Evelyn Yohanna.
Sambo Bute Mohammed is a Mathematics Student, who is in his fourth year at the Gombe State University. He expressed his pain at commencement of the one-week warning strike, calling it unfair and an unwelcome development.
“And from our calendar, hoping next year June or July we’ll be graduation, that is four hundred level students. And by now, as a result of the strike, I think the calendar has been mixed up. So seriously, we are appealing to the lecturers to discuss, so that things will work out well,” said Mr. Mohammed, a Four Hundred Level Student of Mathematics at the Gombe State University.
Sam Akada Samuel, a Four Hundred Level Student of Biological Sciences says he is not happy with the strike.
“It’s been something that has been really, really heating up the education sector, especially the Nigerian universities. In my own view, I don’t think we the students should suffer from the strike. If there is a strike, our educational aspect shouldn’t suffer, because we are the ones suffering now, while the lecturers earn their salaries.
In fact, I will say this publicly, those going on strike in Nigeria are not even going on strike, because the teachers of primary schools are those who should go on strike, but they are not going on strike. So I am calling on the lecturers and government to have a dialogue and come to a particular state of understanding and make everything clear, so that the strike will come to an end,” said Mr. Akada, a Four Hundred Level Student of Biological Sciences at the Gombe State University.
The one week strike which began on Wednesday is slated to end on Tuesday, by 12 midnight next week, with the hope from the university lecturers, that the government would respond positively to their demands and make them go back to their duties of raising the next generation of educated Nigerians.