The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) views with deep concern and discontent the ongoing and indeed a recurring strike in our nation's ivory towers by the Academic Staff Unions of our Universities (ASUU) which has entered its 9th week without any sign of being resolved soon as parties in the crisis continue to trade blame and spoil for more actions on the matter.
We have watched with keen interest as the Dr. Nasir Issa Faggie-led ASUU declared a 3-day warning strike before it finally embarked on an indefinite strike action on July 1, 2013 towards ensuring that the Federal Government honoured the cardinal agreements reached with the University lecturers since 2009. According to ASUU, those agreements include: -
•Injection of proper funds to revitalize the Nigerian Universities
•Provision of Federal Government’s Assistance to state universities
•Progressive increase of annual budgetary allocation to education to 26% between 2009 and 2020, and Earned Allowances, Amendment and the Pension Retirement age of academics on the profession cadre from 65 to 70 years
•Establishment of the Pension Fund Administrator Governing Council
•Transfer of Federal Government’s landed properties to universities as the setting up of research and development units by companies operating in Nigeria as well as teaching and research equipment.
In essence, ASUU is simply asking the Federal Government for proper funding of the universities to bring them to the level to compete with world acclaimed and prestigious ones which the University of Ibadan (UI), the premier University once attained as one of the 10 best Universities in the world.
While the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim led Government Team is insisting that Government cannot afford full adherence to those agreements, ASUU is insisting it cannot shift ground on any of the already agreed issues since according to it, necessary concessions were granted before those Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) were reached with the Federal Government in 2009.
Though President Jonathan may not be the President then, since government is a continuum, the administration is duty bound to implement the signed agreements as he was also the second in command.
Against all the stated backdrop and considering the enormous toll incessant strikes have had on the nation’s university education system, which to say the least, has made the country’s best University today to rank only amongst the hinds 6,000 in the world while most of our graduates are simply ‘unemployable’, the nation’s scarce resources are routinely frittered away through unabated sleaze and in the face of endemic corruption at all levels of governance.
PENGASSAN joins millions of concerned Nigerians and groups to appeal to Suswam led Committee to sheath their sword by embracing dialogue as a means of finding a lasting solution to the recurring problem of under funding of the nation’s education. This is so as education remains a major plank for sustainable development and veritable means of rediscovering the dream of the founding fathers of the nation.
More worrisome for the majority of the talented youths whose sponsored can not afford a private or foreign school, and have rested all hope in the public schools now imagine the kind of future generation they are bound to build as they are turned out half-baked as a result of irregular and sandwiched session and curriculum.
PENGASSAN cannot but frowns at the degenerating Government habit of reneging on Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) freely entered into. While Government feigns to be contending with financial challenges over ASUU' demans. We strongly advise Government to refocus the nation's budget and expenditures to priorities areas which education stands out by using this strike events to declare a State of Emergency in the Education Sector with a view to finally securing it for better rewarding future of our youths.
Comrade Seyi Gambo
National PRO PENGASSAN