From Fred Ezeh, Abuja and Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has issued a nine-day ultimatum to the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to re-open all public universities for academic activities.
Coordinator, NANS Zone F South-East, Mr. Moses Onyia, in a statement, yesterday, in Enugu on his behalf by Lillian Orji, said ASUU and the Federal Government should resolve their differences to allow students return to classes under nine-days warning that failure would leave students with the last resort of taking drastic measures that could see blockage of traffic at airports and entrances into the South East.
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Onyia spoke against the backdrop of ASUU’s recent extension of its warning strike by another three months, saying it meant students would be kept at home for a total of six months.
The lecturers’ industrial action aims at pressing home the demand for the revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution for payment of university lecturers.
Onyia, however, said from May 20 to May 25 after the expiration of the ultimatum, NANS “would take up measures that will see Nigerian students of the South-East extraction in their numbers blocking one of the major entrance into South-East – The Niger Bridge.
“We will also block all the three airports in the South-East, which included: Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu; Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri and Anambra Passenger and Cargo International Airport, Umeri, Anambra. Thus, halting all movement to and from these axis of the South East.
“It is our hope it does not get to this point, but when we are pushed to the wall, we are ready to hold the bull by the horn. Emphatically, we re-emphasise once again that government should show a commitment to the oath of protecting the interest and welfare of Nigerians and Nigerian students which they swore to. We enjoin all students in the South East to remain law abiding and peaceful, but stay at alert and be on the lookout for instructions from its leadership as events unfolds. When it becomes inevitable, the call to action will be made.”
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•Unilorin students protest
Meanwhile, students of the University of Ilorin (Unilorin), yesterday, staged a protest. The students, in their large numbers, marched through the streets, sometimes sitting on the ground, squatting or lying down in groups reciting the National Anthem to depict their dissatisfaction and frustration with the ASUU strike. They also vowed not to participate in the 2023 elections if the strike was not called off.
Speaking with journalists, president of the Unilorin Students Union Government (SUG), Taofik Waliu, said the protest was aimed at creating awareness among stakeholders and members of the public over their plight on the prolonged ASUU strike, saying: “We are tired. We want to graduate. The Federal Government should listen to ASUU demands. We didn’t plan to move around town today. We hope that soon ASUU strike will be a thing of the past…However, if nothing fruitful comes out after the meeting of the Federal Government and ASUU this week, we will move en masse continuously with other students of 10 educational institutions in the state to block roads to various places in the state capital to register our displeasure over the lingering ASUU strike.
As a way forward, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have joined ASUU in requesting for a payment system outside the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) used for the payment of salaries and other entitlements of Federal Government workers.
Joint Action Committee (JAC) of SSANU and NASU presented the proposed new payment platform, known as University Peculiar Payroll Payment System (U3PS) to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, in Abuja, yesterday.
President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim explained that the platform was designed to accommodate all stakeholders in the university system, notably, academic, non academic staff and academic technologies.
The two unions like ASUU had rejected IPPIS introduced by the Federal Government for the payment of workers’ salaries. While ASUU came up with UTAS, the JAC of SSANU and NASU opted for U3PS.