Mr Asefon says NANS’ involvement in future negotiations between the federal government and ASUU would bring a sense of urgency to the table during such negotiations.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has commended the Federal Government (FG) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), for reaching an agreement to end the union’s nine-month-old strike.
Sunday Asefon, the National President of NANS, while reacting to the announcement by ASUU calling off the strike on Wednesday in Abuja, called for the involvement of the students’ body in future negotiations.
ASUU embarked on strike on March 23, to press home its demands which included funding for the Revitalisation of Public Universities, payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), resolving salary shortfall and state universities’ problems.
Others bordered on visitation panels, re-constitution of the 2009 FGN/ASUU re-negotiation committee, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
Mr Asefon stated that students’ involvement in future negotiations between the federal government and ASUU would bring a sense of urgency to the table during such negotiations.
The national president said students’ involvement would also compel government and ASUU to understand the need for prompt settlement of disputes.
“I welcome this development with nostalgia. I feel very concerned that our students had to stay for nine months at home before the FG and ASUU could resolve this impasse.
“At the same time, I feel elated that the ugly days are finally over for the Nigerian students, and we can all return to our different campuses.
“Going forward, government and ASUU must find a progressive ground and alternative conflict resolution process in resolving their differences on labour actions.
“Students who seek education must not be allowed to bear the brunt of labour related issues.
“Never again should we have a repeat of this strike and stakeholders must make commitment to ensure that this ugly scenario does not repeat itself.
“Government must be committed to fulfilling its agreement with ASUU at all times, while ASUU must be wary to go on strike.
“ASUU must seek to exhaust every window of alternative dispute resolution before deciding on strike,” he said.
Mr Asefon pledged the association’s commitment to do everything possible, to ensure that the nine-month strike would be the last in the country’s tertiary education sector.
He called on ASUU to facilitate the reinstatement of suspended students and their leaders, whose offences centred on dissent with management and government or expression of privately-held opinions across campuses.
He commended Nigerian students for maintaining peace, maturity and restraint while the strike was on.
Meanwhile, some students have also reacted to the development ahead of its final resolution.
Eneh Edoh, a 300-level student of the Benue University, commended the efforts of both parties, saying that this had shown that government had the interest of Nigerian youths at heart.
“I was shocked when I heard the news this morning, because it was like this day would never come.
“I had similar hope before, but it got shattered because I never believed it would last this long.
“Now I am happy that very soon, I will again be in the classroom. Now, I also know that government has the interest of young adults and students in mind.”
Favour Rotimi, a student of Mass Communication, Federal University Oye-Ekiti, noted that some of her friends in private universities that gained admission same time with her were now in their second year of study.
Ms Rotimi said she was now full of joy and only hoped that this would be the last ASUU strike before the completion of her academic programme.
Similarly, Ayomide Adeyemi, a 200-level student of Political Science, University of Maiduguri, praised government and the leadership of ASUU for reaching a compromise to end the strike.
Mr Adeyemi, however, pleaded with the labour union to always put the interest of the students at heart, to forestall future recurrence.