All hands must be on deck, according to Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, to ensure that academic (ASUU) strikes in universities become a thing of the past.
The Speaker made the remark in a statement congratulating the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on calling off its eight-month strike.
Among other things, the academics had demanded improved welfare and the revitalization of public universities.
Gbajabiamila said it is time to “admit certain harsh truths and take radical action,” while expressing gratitude to the Federal Government and the ASUU leadership for finding a solution to end the strike.
He lamented the eight-month length of the strike and said it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“Our public universities should be citadels of learning and innovation, where young people discover themselves and reach for the stars,” he said.
Mr Gbajabiamila called on the government, universities, unions, and citizens “to begin the critical conversation about the future of public tertiary education in the country.”
The eight-month strike that had been at a standstill after the Federal Government had dragged ASUU to court was finally put an end by Gbajabiamila’s intervention, along with that of other House members.
The Gbajabiamila committee had two meetings with President Buhari last week and was able to mediate a cease-fire between the two sides.
The Federal Government has made accommodations even though not all of ASUU’s demands have been met.
In his speech introducing the 2023 budget last week, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that a total of ₦470 billion had been set aside to address some of the main demands of the ASUU and revitalize and raise salaries in the country’s tertiary institutions.
The President did, however, add that the government cannot continue to provide all of the resources needed to fund tertiary education.
“In most countries, the cost of education is jointly shared between the government and the people, especially at the tertiary level,” the President said.
“It is imperative therefore that we introduce a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education.”
He continued by saying that his administration was dedicated to carrying out agreements reached with staff unions within the constraints of available funds.