The President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon on Thursday suggested that the union is prepared to hit the streets to protest the strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Mr Asefon made the comment while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
According to Mr Asefon, the government appears not to be interested in ending the strike as focus shifts to elections in 2023.
He referenced the protests in Benin-city embarked by some university students.
“We are talking about education, we are talking about life,” he said. “Our life is no longer being discussed by the leaders, these leaders that we elected; but rather, their focus now is about election. This election that we are talking about is because of their parochial and selfish interest.
“We are battle ready, the highest they can do is to shoot us,” he said. “If they shoot, they will ask their police to shoot us, if we die, the generation coming will know we died because of fighting for them. They would also know that they shot us because they are preparing for election. But we need to take action.”
Mr Asefon noted that the government should stop playing politics with the ASUU issue.
“If you have an opportunity to meet the ASUU and federal government, federal government will tell you they inherited the problem from PDP, the ASUU will tell you this negotiation has been on since when Jonathan was there but what we believe as students is that government is continuous; they should be able to fine tune and find a solution to this matter,” he said.
“We should not be at the receiving end every time and as such, they should stop using us to play politics.”
ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14.
On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government meet all of its demands.
The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.
One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.
But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The agreement was reportedly struck in 2009.
Another is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The academics have proposed an alternative payroll system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).(Channels TV)
•PHOTO: Sunday Asefon and NANS logo