VC cautions against another ASUU nationwide strike
By Cyril Mbah, Abuja
The Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Professor Suleiman Bala Mohammed has called for urgent remedial actions to avert another nationwide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Professor Mohammed said it will be disastrous and unfortunate to ignore the recent complaints by ASUU leadership over government’s reluctance to implement the agreement that prompted the union to suspend its recent strike this year.
The Vice-Chancellor, who spoke in an exclusive interview, remarked that another ASUU strike will have devastating consequences on the education sector saying that the sector is currently struggling to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and attacks by bandits.
According to Professor Mohammed, “the education sector suffered so much setback from bandit attacks and the industrial dispute between the government and ASUU, which commenced and lasted several months, soon after restrictions over the pandemic were lifted.”
According to him, “Many institutions are currently struggling to recover lost ground. Another strike now by ASUU or other academic unions will serve a final blow on the education sector. Am concerned that ASUU complained over the government’s reluctance to implement the promises it made to the union.
“I am concerned because universities do not need another disruption of the academic calendar now. Many institutions are currently struggling to catch-up. Institutions are at different levels of recovery and it has really not been easy to do so after COVID forced schools to shut down for almost one year.
“We have just concluded the 2019 academic session and we are supposed to admit students for the 2020/2021 session. Now, JAMB examination has been concluded and results released. So, we have a huge set of people waiting for admission. If we have another ASUU strike now, it will really spell doom for the education sector, he stated, adding “We are happy that ASUU has drawn the attention of the government and the public to the outstanding issues. The best action now will be for the two sides to meet and harmonise their differences so that proper actions can be taken to prevent another strike.”
Continuing, Professor Mohammed said, “ASUU has indicated by this action that there is need to return to the negotiating table and that the earlier agreements should be implemented as agreed.
“Our prayers and hope is that the government should heed the advice and take appropriate actions to avert another strike so that universities can catch-up on lost ground. I personally appeal to the Federal Government to take seriously the recent complaints made by the union and act positively in favour of the education sector.
“The universities require peace to carry out their mandate. On our part, we would continue to run an administration that is inclusive and responsive, an administration that believes in dialogue with staff and students and being open and transparent to generate and sustain the confidence of stakeholders on campus.”
On the rate of infrastructural development in the university, Professor Suleiman Mohammed said the pace has appreciated with the release of some development funds accruing to the university.
He said, “We have accessed our N3 billion high impact development fund for 2020 and we channeled it into three areas such as the construction of a 5-storey Senate Building, the construction of a central workshop for the engineering department and the procurement of equipment for the College of Medicine.
“We hope to start admitting students into the two faculties by 2020. Already, we have shortlisted applicants who want to work in the faculties and we would soon invite them for formal interview,” he said.