President Muhamadu Buhari has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to consider the plight of students and call off the ongoing strike.
This is even as he has also urged students in the country’s public tertiary institutions to exercise patience as the government strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the ambit of the resources available.
He made the appeal at the 19th National Productivity Day Celebration and Conferment of National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) on 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors, for their high productivity, hardwork and excellence.
The event was held at the State House Conference Center, Abuja.
Buhari recalled his February 1 directive to His Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, the ministers of education, and labour and employment, Adamu Adamu and Chris Ngige respectively, to as a team to address the concerns of the striking aggrieved workers’ unions.
ASUU had in statement on Monday, said since the President’s directive was issued, no meeting had been held by the concerned officials to resolve the conflicts.
ASUU said failure of the government to show concern about its demands forced it to extend the three-month-old strike by another three months.
President Buhari recalled that he had earlier directed the Chief of Staff, Hon. Ministers of Labour and Employment, Education, Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to again critically look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU and in fact all other University based labour unions.
On the theme of this year’s celebration ‘‘Achieving Higher Productivity through Improved Education System,’’ the President pledged that the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to uplift the standard of the educational system in the country, adding that his administration recognised that the future of any nation is contingent on the standard of its educational system.
‘‘Therefore, if we desire to transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy, improving our educational system should be accorded the highest priority.’’
Highlighting notable achievements in the education sector including the drastic reduction of the number of out of school children from 10.1million in 2019 to 6.9 million in 2020, automatic employment for graduates of education, review of the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, among others, the President said more still needs to be done.
“Quality educational system is good not just for the national economy; it is also good for the citizens.
“Ignoring the productivity dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty and social exclusion.
“It will be difficult to improve our economic performance and overall productivity, without improving our educational system.
“Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system,” he said.
To address these challenges, Buhari said his administration has reviewed the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, while years of service have now been moved from 35 to 40 years to encourage more graduates to join the teaching profession.