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ASUU carpets FG over insecurity, terrorism

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Friday, lashed out at the Federal Government over its failure to protect the lives and properties of citizenry following wanton destructions by terrorists and herdsmen in the country.

The union said the Federal Government had failed in its constitutional mandate of protecting the country, noting that it had resulted in insurgency, terrorism, insecurity of Nigerian state.

The outgone ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said this at the 21st ASUU National Delegates Conference, themed, ‘State Terrorism and Nigeria’s Development’. The event was held at the new ASUU-NAU Secretariat Complex of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state.

Prof. Abiodun also disclosed that no fewer than 30 of its members lost their lives to COVID-19-related complications. He regretted that many of the victims had battled the attack with resources from colleagues and other people of goodwill following the deliberate starvation of their salaries from concerned authorities.

He said, “We must place on record that COVID-19 did not spare our campuses. Many of our infected members had had to combat the COVID attack with resources from colleagues and other people of goodwill.

“This is because their salaries and emoluments as well as the Union’s check off deductions were either withheld by the office of the Accountant-General of the federation over the rejection of the discredited Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information Systems (IPPIS).

“Our other comrades suffered the same fate in the hands of overzealous State University Vice Chancellors and visitors. As a matter of fact, we lost at least 30 comrades, including past branch officers to COVID-related complications in the process.”

While praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased, who, he said, could have been saved with access to better healthcare facilities, Ogunyemi called on the Federal Government to pay adequate attention to the health and education sectors. He described the sectors as siamese twins separated for convenience sake.

“As we’ve consistently demanded, State and Federal governments in Nigeria must learn from on our avoidable losses from the COVID-19 crisis to bring about the much-needed turnaround in our health and education sectors,” he added.

The ASUU boss further appreciated Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, the Nigeria Labour Congress and others who he had cause to work with during his reign, adding, “in the last three years, ASUU has enjoyed tremendous goodwill from quarters too numerous to mention”.

In a lead paper presentation, a foremost Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law, Prof. Akin Oyebode, posited that massive investment in the education sector can quell terrorism in Nigeria. Oyebode said terrorism is an ideology evolved by terrorists and sold to their followers but with massive investment in education, the psyche of young people could be reshaped.

Speaking on the theme, Oyebode said: “From terrorism to banditry, to gunmen, insecurity has exposed the underbelly of the country’s security.

“Nigeria today has fallen to insecurity and nowhere is safe in the country. Terrorism is an ideology that is held by terrorists, who in turn pass it to others.

“What we need to do is to educate people who hold this belief to destroy the ideology. We need to invest massively in education to destroy the ideology already held by terrorists. We will continue to demand that the budgetary allocation to education for our country be enhanced. That is how we can fight terrorism”.

Also speaking, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba commended ASUU leadership for remaining consistent in ensuring ideologies of its founding fathers were not lost, describing the union as the intellectual arm of working class struggle in Nigeria.

He stressed that access to quality education remained the only solution to breaking the gap between the rich and the poor, just as he berated the governors’ forum for their decision on the fuel pump price hike.

He enjoined the citizenry to agonize less but organise more, assuring them that his union would remain on the streets for a better society, just as he called for ASUU’s support in the struggle.

The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Charles Esimone, described ASUU as the soul and conscience of the Nigerian university system.

“It has fought and continues to fight many battles, sometimes getting bruised in the process, not merely to better members welfare, but more importantly for a more congenial university ambiance where teaching, learning and research can be more meaningful,” he said.

Earlier in a remark, the ASUU-NAU chairperson, Comrade Stephen Ufoaroh, thanked the national leadership for the privilege to host the 21st delegate conference, while commending ASUU-NAU members, university management for their sacrifices.

Inauguration of 1000 capacity ultramodern ASUU-NAU auditorium housing business hall for NUPEMCO and ASUU-NAU Cooperatives, restaurant, gym house, mini conference hall, digital library, as well as offices for executives of the union formed the high point of the occasion.

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