Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, and presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has appealed to both the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end the on-going face-off and re- open the universities for students to return to school.
In a statement issued by the spokesperson of the Udom Emmanuel Presidential Council, Mr. Bola Bolawole, the governor said the time had come for both the FG and ASUU to climb down from their high horses and avert a disaster that may strike the country’s educational system as a whole if the ASUU strike is not quickly called off and the universities re -opened for studies.
The statement read in part: “The discussions are already going on in some foreign countries where our people, especially our youths, run to for greener pastures, to their recognition of university certificates from Nigeria. God forbid that this should happen! The all-round effects on our people are better imagined than felt.
“According to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s Diaspora remittances inflow for the first nine months of 2021 rose to $14.2 billion, up 10 per cent Year-on-Year from $12.9 billion in the corresponding period of 2020 and beat the World Bank quarter-on-quarter projections for the same period.
“This is second only to foreign exchange earned from the oil sector. Nothing must be done to adversely affect its growth in the short and long-terms. If university certificates from Nigeria are no longer recognised, how can our people flooding into countries abroad for further studies and job opportunities fulfill their dreams?
“How can the Nigerian government benefit from the bounteous energies of Nigerians in Diaspora, who are noted all over the world for their resilience, industry, and capacity to excel and hold their own against the world’s best?
“What will be the rationale for the continued maintenance and relevance of ASUU and its members if the students they claim to teach and train are seen and treated as half-baked by their counterparts in other parts of the world?
“Of what benefit and relevance, then, is the continued maintenance of universities whose certificates are treated as worthless by their counterparts in other parts of the world?”
Stating that unofficial reports put the population of Nigerians in the Diaspora at 15 million, the governor said a very important safety valve releasing social tension will be closed with dire consequences if Nigerians, especially the youths seeking “better life” abroad, are unable to do so again.
“This, then, is my clarion call to both the FG and ASUU: Think like statesmen and resolve this issue as quickly as possible in the interest of all. Where necessary, sacrifices must be made on all sides. And as much as is humanly possible, agreements freely entered into must be respected and implemented.
“The records of ASUU strikes in recent years are worrisome; close to four years have been lost to strikes, whereas an average semester is made up of between three and four months! Just imagine how many semesters and whole academic sessions the university system has lost to ASUU strikes alone, not to talk of time lost to strikes by other workers in the university system and student demonstrations!
“Enough is now enough! All the key players or gladiators should understand that what is going on is self-immolation. We all must stop cutting our nose in spite of our face. Saving the university system from imminent collapse is a task that must be done. It is the duty of each and every one of us, not government’s alone, and not ASUU’s alone. Everyone must stand up to be counted.”