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Bayelsans commend Gov Diri Over his stance to call off ASUU sympathy Strike

By Austin Genesis

 The governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Douye Diri has been commended over his stance to call off ASUU Sympathy strike in the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU). 

May be an image of 1 person, sitting and indoor
Senator Douye Diri

 Several indigenes and non-indigenes who spoke to Global Overseer on condition of anonymity on Friday, in Yenagoa, in reaction to Governor’s stance on ASUU strike in the state described the gesture as a welcome development and timely.

Some even called on the federal government to proscribe ASUU in federal and state governments tertiary institutions in the country, stressing that ASUU cannot be allowed to hold government activities to a halt for selfish gains at the detriment of its citizenries.

According to them ASUU as a trade union has failed to adhere to the purpose in which it was formed for regulation of relations between academic staff and employers; encouragement of the participation of its members in the affairs of the university system and of the nation, protection and advancement of the socio-economic and cultural interest of the nation among other activities to promote peace, but not the confrontational manner in which ASUU positioned itself as if the State and the federal governments are under it, and any decision it takes government must comply.

They further called on the state and federal governments to take urgent measures to call ASUU members to order immediately, pointing out that their demand for government to implement salaries and allowances of lecturers, improved funding for universities as well as the adoption of UTAS against the federal government's preferred payment platform — Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System cannot warrant a patriotic trade union of visionary leaders with wisdom to embark on strike for over seven months.

The added that it is uncalled for the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to use over a total of 1,480 days to go on strike since the inception of this democratic dispensation in 1999 as at 2 September, 2022.

It would be recalled that the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has urged lecturers at the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) to end their seven-month-long sympathy strike with the national body of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Governor Diri insisted that the sympathy industrial action by lecturers of the university was no longer justifiable as they have been receiving their salaries monthly without going to work.

He said although the institution’s governing council had scheduled a meeting with the union, he said the lecturers ought to reciprocate the goodwill of the state government by returning to the classroom in the interest of the students.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, on Wednesday quoted the governor as saying on Tuesday night at a dinner in honour of the victorious Bayelsa United Football Club in Yenagoa that the state government had sorted out all the issues between it and the institution’s ASUU.

Governor Diri noted that lecturers in federal tertiary institutions might have issues with the federal government but that was no longer the case with the state-owned institution’s lecturers.

He said: “Let me use this opportunity to call on lecturers at the Niger Delta University to call off their strike. I have already given directives to the governing council, which represents the government in the management of that university.

“For about seven months they have been on strike. They call it a sympathy strike because the very local issues that they raised with our government have already been sorted out. So they have no problem with the state government.

“About two or three months ago, I met with the leadership at a meeting not to continue the sympathy strike. Yes, they are all unionists. However, in Nigeria, there are two layers of government that are totally different.

“The issues are with the federal universities and not the state institutions. State-owned institutions in our sister states like Rivers and Delta did not join the strike or have called off theirs. I would like the Niger Delta University to follow suit by calling off the strike.

“You all know that you cannot be receiving salaries and you do not go to work for seven months. Like I said, I have set up the machinery and I am very sure that reasoning will prevail. NDU will resume in the shortest possible time for our children to go back to school.”

Recently, a front line Social Rights Crusader and Communication Strategist, Oluwaseun Adegbola popularly known as “Triple Tee” in his Towncrier had said that he will not beg ASUU.

 “I will not beg ASUU. Their demands are superfluous and unrealistic. They cannot fix their earnings. The demand for a 180% percent salary increment is criminal for a group of people that have not and may not be able to solve any of our national problems and sectoral growth issues. If our education system is productive and useful, Nigeria today would have been the China of Africa. Poor research skills, disorganized learning aptitude, canonical, and disused curricula, cribbing and lack of innovation are some of the obvious anomalies of our universities. What is the research profile of these lecturers? How productive are they to our national development and sectoral growth challenges? If they are useful and resourceful, they should have helped us solve the bulk of our national problems from revenue, to health, production, economy and all. Plagiarism and intellectual thefts are recurrent decimal in our citadel of learning. shamefully, the relationship is no longer give and take. They are a huge burden to our national budget in a country with dwindling revenue.

One would wonder if we will be talking about funding universities in Nigeria today if any of our faculties of pharmacy for instance was the standout producer of Astrazeneca vaccine for covid19, and supplying just Africa countries. The money generated from this alone will fund ASUU forever and fix the rot in our ivory towers once and for all. Reward must be commensurate with productivity. But where is the capacity? Same for our Faculty of Engineering and Technology who are sown perpetually to 18th century concepts and antediluvian ideas. We do not produce ordinary blending machines, not to talk of automobiles, heavy machines and farm equipment? We rely solely on importation from a country with a more serious and research focus Academic staff unions. The implications of this are mammoth. First a capital flight and second, job flight. Unfortunately, ASUU is asking for the money they cannot help us retain in our economy. While graduates are similarly asking for jobs, ASUU’s ineptitude took out of Nigeria long before they were admitted. It is our shameful reality.

What is most unfortunate is even ASUU trying to determine how the government should pay their salary. Some of them are part-time lecturers in private universities, and will never try that blarney with visitors (owners) of private schools. Frankly, ASUU that cannot develop and design a workable system of government in/for Nigeria with more 113 faculties of social science in our 63 years of independence, hurried to develop UTAS to hide their blagging and inordinate agenda and in the process pointing a gun at the Federal Government to pay them with it. Regrettably, UTAS like ASUU failed the system integrity test. Yet, they will not shift ground. They have the students as bait.

In fairness, if any faculty is tired of teaching and wants to become a Senator, a Governor or even the President and commander of the Federal Republic, s/he should resign and join a political party, print posters and start a campaign. Simple and straight. These issues are beyond President Buhari. ASUU strike antedated this government. Strike is their stock. They are not even creative in their struggle beyond using the students as a decoy to negotiate their greed and larceny. Government largely funds public sector education in Nigeria. Our universities are one of the cheapest in the world. The tuition charges from students are very far from the budgets of our schools. This same meager tuition is grossly abused and unaccounted for. Yet they want more money even with a dwindling national revenue.

The Federal government should be deliberate henceforth about lecturers’ recruitments and promotion. We must find a way to end this mediocrity, lack of scholarship, enterprise and innovation. Promotion should only be earned on useful and verifiable research. We must ease these robots away from the system.

Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has carpeted the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for extending its strike indefinitely.

The students’ body accused the university teachers of embarking on a mission to crumple the nation’s university education system and systematically promote private universities where many of them have their children.

In a statement yesterday, by The Nation On Sep 2, 2022,  NANS President Adedayo Sunday Asefon said: “We have taken the time to review the decision of ASUU to declare an indefinite strike after the ongoing six-month strike. We consider the decision not only unpatriotic, unnecessary but wicked and definitely not in the interest of our nation or the tertiary education system in Nigeria.

 NANS President Adedayo Sunday Asefon

 “Such a decision was easy for ASUU because many of their leaders do not have their wards in public universities and still keep employment at various private universities around the country. As such, they are not affected by their attempt to collapse the sector for their selfish and inconsiderate gains.

“ASUU had succeeded, initially, to masquerade their strike as an action in the interest of the tertiary education system in Nigeria and in the interest of the teeming Nigerian students.

 “But events of recent weeks have made it abundantly clear that ASUU has an ulterior motive, which is to collapse university education system in Nigeria and systematically promote private universities where many of them have their children, stakes and perhaps where they receive payment for the job of collapsing public universities in Nigeria.

“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government to investigate the leadership of ASUU with the aim of unraveling their motivation for their insistence on collapsing the public university system in Nigeria.”

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