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ASUU strike: Group threatens to mobilise women to stage mass protest

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Considering the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike action that has lingered for more than four months now, a civic coalition known as Save Public Education Campaign has threatened to mobilise women to stage mass protest nationwide against the federal government.

The threat is coming after government fail to respond to the demands of the striking workers despite several meetings. 

In a press conference on Monday in Abuja, the convener of the coalition, Vivian Bello said women are the worst hit from the consequences of the incessant strike actions that have almost collapsed the country’s tertiary education system.

She also condemned what she described as unpopular policies of the federal government in the education sector which has adversely affected public universities and tertiary institutions across the country.  

According to her, “Distressing statistics show that the Academic Staff Union of Universities  ASUU has been on strike for a total of over 725 days since the beginning of this administration over issues that bother largely on poor welfare, University Autonomy and lack of adequate funding for Universities. When tallied inversely, this amounts to an entire two and half years lost in the educational lives of innocent Nigerian Children/Students in public Universities across the Country. 

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“It did not end there; The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education,  ASUP and COEASU are currently on strike on similar issues as ASUU. We can see clearly that this is an all-round collapse of Tertiary Education in the Country. Only last week, while the Minister of Labour was rehearsing a familiar cracked refrain that government was working hard and that the strike will soon end, SSANU and NASU came out to announce a devastating two-months extension of the strike.

“In all of these, the Nigerian authorities have not seen any compelling need to either devote the action and attention or resources that are needed to tackle this ugly state of affairs of the Tertiary Educational Sector in Nigeria. On the contrary, they rather see and consider playing politics and the attendant wastage of humongous resources on Political Parties’ Nomination forms and Primaries while relegating issues as fundamental as education and future of Nigerian Children to the back-bench. This is totally tragic. But then of course they do not care. 

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“On the other hand ,the children of ruling elites are graduating in different international Universities across developed countries around the world. Soon, if the situation persists, we will have no option than to compile names of these public officials and their children and demand the hosting countries and schools expel them to return and have education as is, in their home country, Nigeria” she added. 

The group further made the following demand; “That the negotiation process of the strike action, including as led by the Prof Nimi Briggs committee, be immediately concluded and SIGNED (We demand an end to the lingering foot-dragging).

“The IPPIS has been specifically described and pointed out with evidence, by the striking academic unions as problematic, inconsistent and fraudulent. The Platform should therefore be set aside while the proposed more credible alternatives; UTAS, U3PS deployed accordingly.

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“We call for immediate payment of ALL withheld salaries of the striking academic unions.

“Having become aware of a proposed bill by the Senate to establish a financial Aid Scheme for students; we demand that such proposed Scheme be clearly explained to Nigerians. We want to see a properly public-funded education at all levels in Nigeria and not create another looting avenue or portfolio for some unscrupulous mindless public officials.

“That in view of the gravity of the situation, we make a clarion call for unity and coming together of staff unions, students, workers and communities across the country, to mobilize and get ready for civic mass actions to compel the government to take the necessary steps to end the strike and have the millions of our children and students, return to school to end the jeopardy of their Education and future.”

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