From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Africa Youth Growth Foundation (AYGF) has ruled out litigation as a potent means of resolving the superiority contest between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Federal Government, which has literally grounded tertiary education via a protracted strike that has lasted for over six months.
At a media briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, Executive Director, AYGF, Dr. Arome Salifu, said dragging the striking lecturers to the industrial court would not prolong the crisis, but would unlikely resolve the face-off judging from experience
“So, the advice we are giving the government and ASUU is to get back to negotiations to look at the bigger picture, and speak truth to power, and of course search their conscience to consider the fact that there is so much we are losing as a country.
“Our competent lecturers are already leaving the country and migrating to other countries. Our students are already being exposed to social and anti-social vulnerabilities or exposures. Some take to criminalities and so many are already contributing to the tension in the country because they need to vent their frustration caused by sitting at home.
“I also have to say to ASUU that you cannot win it all. You win some and leave others for some other days. Trying to get everything through a single strike, I don’t think would get everybody on the same page. At the same, on all issues, ASUU should reconsider its position, and soft pedal on some of its demands for the greater interest of the students”, Salifu explained.
He, however, urged the affected students to, in the interim, register for online courses to update themselves, acquire skills and become productive while negotiations progressed.
“Any period of crises is a period to rediscover one’s self. One of our aims here is not to apportion blame. We have to put our heads together and suggest a way forward from our current impasse. If we look at the consequences of the strike, we have no choice but to plead with all parties to sheath their swords.
While we recommend that the government put empathy for the students first, it must take into cognizance the fact that our human capital development gap is widening. The students are going to be rushed through their courses, overburdened and the entire system will be crowded with mediocrity. Therefore, the government must as a matter of urgency, go the whole hog in solving this issue.
“We are also urging ASUU to consider finding a middle ground in all that has been said and agreed in the negotiations with government and other stakeholders in the interest of national cohesion and posterity”, he said.
He added that the strike has crippled education sector, particularly in the areas of engineering, research and development.
“One of the consequences of this is the workforce gap it would create in the future. Statistics have it that it would take Africa, Nigeria inclusive, 250 years to get to the current development level of the United States of America.
“These include trained workforce and human capital development. Nigeria being the giant of Africa, is trapped in the circle of unending stoppages in the process of developing its workforce. This is a huge setback for Africa.
“In the long run, we would not only be left behind by other countries in human capital development, but also be burdened by capital flights in the way of importing human resources and products for that could have been produced locally”, he added.
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