By Gabriel Dike and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) yesterday told the Federal Government that the body is not employer of embers of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in public universities.
Responding to government plead for parents to beg ASUU to suspend the nationwide strike which has kept students out of the campus for over five months, the National President of NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said Nigerian parents don’t have power over ASUU.
Danjuma said university lecturers are employees of federal and state governments and wondered why the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo would ask parents to beg striking university lecturers.
Said he: “After over five months shut down of public universities, the Federal Government is asking Nigerian parents to beg ASUU to suspend the ongoing strike. We are not employers of lecturers.
“For government to ask parents to beg ASUU is not wise enough. We don’t have powers over ASUU. We have powers over our children who we pay school fee but have been kept at home for over five months.”
Danjuma told Daily Sun that NAPTAN is ready to mediate between ASUU and the Federal Government, adding, “I expect government to invite parents to a roundtable discussion on the way forward. We will look at ASUU’s demands and what government brought to the table.
“Yes, some of ASUU’s demands are genuine but government says it can’t meet all the demands. If we are convinced of government position, I will go on my kneels to beg ASUU to accept what government is offering.
“ASUU should not expect the Federal Government to meet all their demands. Rather that ask us to go and beg ASUU, we expect government to invite us to mediate and by the grace of God we will resolve the face off.”
In his reaction, ASUU Lagos Zonal Coordinator, Dr. Adelaja Odukoya, said “it is a most irresponsible statement from a government official whose government have set up two negotiation committees to engaged and renegotiate with ASUU but reject the draft agreements of its own committees and continue to lie rather than come out with its position.
“It is an admittance that the government of which this yesterday activist is a part has failed irredeemably and has no business in government a day longer. It is a mockery and insult on the Nigerian people. It erases any doubt that these predators in government are interested in education and national development.’’
President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon, said that Festus Keyamo, may be right in his appeal, but they cannot join the call of the Federal Government for parents to beg ASUU to end the six months old strike because they are “in dark” regarding the contentious issues in ASUU/Federal Government rift, as well as where they are today regarding the renegotiation.
He said: “I can confirm to you that we are in dark regarding this matter of ASUU and Federal Government. And that has been the reason for our repeated request to be involved in the negotiations.
“Howbeit, I am very sure that Festus Keyamo has his reason for such appeal. For Keyamo to say that, he has his reasons. ASUU is demanding for one or two things, which they have the right to do. As Nigerian students, we can’t join Keyamo to beg ASUU because we am not in the knowing of the contentious issues.
“We are planning to meet with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, this week to know where we are regarding this prolonged strike. Afterwards, we would schedule a meeting with ASUU to also hear from them so we can know what to do next or who to hold responsible for the prolonged ASUU strike.
“But most importantly, there’s need for all parties to drop ego or superiority contest, particularly from the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment.”