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Senate President David Mark yesterday met with officials of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), with the hope of prevailing on them to return to the classroom.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, the Senate President said there were indications that the four-month-old industrial dispute would soon be resolved.
Mark said ASUU officials decried the lingering crisis, which has taken its toll on the nation.
Mark spoke in Abuja during a meeting with ASUU leaders, led by the union’s President, Dr Nasir Fagge.
Those at the meeting included Prof Festus Iyayi, Dr. Dipo Fashina, Prof Abdullahi Sule-Kano, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, Prof Victor Osodeke, Dr. A. B. Baffa, Prof Suleiman Abdul, Dr. Victor Igbum and Mr. Michael Odunmorayo.
The Senate President noted that the strike had brought hardship to students, parents and the lecturers.
He said: “It is time we resolve this matter in the interest of the nation.
“This is not a case of winners or losers. It is not a matter of ego. National interest is at stake. We must do all that is necessary to resolve this matter so that students and teachers can return to classrooms.
“Nobody is happy about the strike, which is in its fourth month. Nobody is happy that our education system is threatened by this ugly development. Let us end this strike for good.”
Dr Fagge said the struggle was necessitated by the need to improve the infrastructure and learning environment in universities.
He said the striking lecturers wished to produce graduates who could be as good as their counterparts in other parts of the world.
The union leader stressed that the strike did not profit the lecturers but was a needed sacrifice for the government to do the right thing in the Education sector.
He said: “We are not just lecturers; we are also parents and students. So, the strike is also affecting us negatively.”
The meeting later went into a closed-door session for about two-and-a-half hours.
The University of Jos (UNIJOS) chapter of the ASUU has said it is not against a dialogue with the Federal Government.
But it said the strike lingered for over four months because of the government’s high-handedness.
The union stressed that its dialogue with the government would have been fruitful, if the government had respected the agreement it signed with the union in 2009 as well as acted on the NEEDS Assessment Report.
A joint statement by the UNIJOS Chairman of the union, Dr. David Jangkam, and the Secretary, Dr. Wamnang, said: “Anything contrary or not based on a clear acceptance of the framework for implementing the 2009 agreement and NEEDS Assessment Report will be an imposition which will not be the solution to the present crisis.”
The statement added that the agreements were well documented and could not be jettisoned under any guise.
The UNJOS-ASUU urged President Goodluck Jonathan to follow the principles of the agreement to resolve the face-off, instead of applying high-handed tactics.
It hailed ASUU’s national leadership for sticking to its guns on the strike.