The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to consider the plight of students and shelve their industrial action.
In a press statement on Friday in Abuja, NANS President, Comrade Chinonso Obasi said that it is obvious that times are hard owing to the general economic down turn in the country.
“To send students home in the name of strike action would not only worsen the harsh social and economic conditions of Nigerian students, but above all dispose to all forms of anti-social practices, including crimes and other deviant behavours. We plead with ASUU to call off the industrial action while it sits in further dialogue with the Federal Government,” Obasi said.
Among its demands from the Federal Government include: “Provision for the granting of student loans to ensure greater access to tertiary education; Governments at State and Federal level should devote a sizeable percentage of the education budget to fund research in our universities and colleges; Politicians should desist from going to tertiary institutions to recruit political thugs for election purposes, because not only does this practice demeaning the so-called future leaders, it has become the enabling culture for cultism and examination malpractices; Politicians who award scholarships to indigenous students should henceforth deal directly with the institutions where the beneficiaries are pursuing their programmes; Lecturers in higher institutions of learning should partake in periodic open fora, during which students could freely comment on their conduct, with a view to isolating the bad eggs that promote and perpetrate anti-social practices, including sexual harassment, sorting and absenteeism; the necessity of decentralizing the National University Commission, (NUC) so that institutions could be free to pursue excellence in line with International Standards and Global best practices.
“Experience has shown that institutions engage in sharp practices during NUC’s periodic ritual of accreditation of courses. Evaluation of course content should be a continuous affair. Universities, polytechnics and colleges of education should be made to upload the roll of its academic staff on the internet for openness and accountability; the voice of Nigeria students must be sought during screening of prospective Ministers of Education.
“In this regard, the present leadership of NANS would seek audience with the President of Senate to map areas of collaboration in this regard; Remove all forms of discriminatory admission policies in schools, colleges and tertiary institutions. There should a common cut off mark all students seeking admission into the university, because the present system of discriminatory admission points awards second class status to certain category of Nigerians. This is not healthy.
“Students should be encouraged to undertake courses in which they have great aptitude; Publish the report of various visitation panels to tertiary institutions and outline how it would go about implementing recommendations contained in them; the Federal Government should make it a point of duty to fulfil its obligations and execute agreements entered into with academic and other staff of academic institutions.
“We discovered that it is always when the governments renege from its agreements that strike action ensues. Government should always fulfil its part of every bargain to show good examples; otherwise it becomes guilty of social corruption.”
On insurgency, militancy, cattle rustling, abduction and human trafficking which has contributed in no small way in backtracking Nigeria’s socio-economic progress, Obasi called on the Federal government to evolve new ways of accommodating young people in decision making.
“Of all the reasons why youths resort to criminality is economic inequality and deprivation. The gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria is too wide. Again, the sources of economic empowerment are constricted for young people. On top of this, the cost of education is so high such that young people are incensed with bitterness and grief,” Obasi said.
On the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) that has been programmed as another means of exploiting Nigerian youths instead of developing the spirit of nationalism and patriotism in them, Obasi said that the Federal Government should consider reducing the prospective age for NYSC, making it elective as well as make the wage equivalent to the salary of a Local Government Councillor.
“It also smacks of negligence that when past political leaders receive pension running into billions of Naira, the prospective corps members could not be mobilized.
“We therefore call on the Federal Government to either scrap the NYSC or provide living wage for the corps members as a way of empowering fresh graduates. Savings from the one year mandatory youth service could help a resourceful fresh graduate embark on small or medium enterprise and start up in life, if the country is interested in developing its youth population instead of suspending their destiny in the claim that their time is in the future,” Obasi emphasized.
The NANS President also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the unconditional release of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a gesture of a new beginning for national reconstruction.
He said that the economic recession is exerting much emotional stress on Nigerians; as such the nation cannot afford the psychological burden of holding political prisoners.