The South-West chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has distanced itself from a recent threat issued by its national president, Sunday Asefon, to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Asefon had earlier said the body would mobilise students for a mass protest should ASUU resume its suspended strike as threatened.
His comment followed a comment by ASUU president, Biodun Ogunyemi, that the suspension of its nine-month-old strike was conditional.
But in a statement on Saturday, NANS Zone D spokesman, Kazeem Olalekan Israel, said Asefon’s comment was made out of ignorance.
Israel wondered why Asefon would threaten ASUU instead of directing his anger at the Nigerian government for failing to revamp the country’s education sector.
The statement read, “As a zonal body, we do not align ourselves with the statement credited to the President of the association that students shall form a resistance against ASUU if another strike is embarked upon by varsity lecturers. We make bold to assert that the statement does not reflect the position of Nigerian students of South-West extraction (and nationally).
“The statement does not only negate the principle of solidarity but also grant permission to this irresponsible and unresponsive government to sustain the trend of not investing in the education sector.
“We believe that the NANS President must have issued the statement out of crass ignorance of the agreement that was reached between ASUU/Nigerian government before the strike was relaxed. As a zonal body, our position is that even if the NANS President is ignorant of the condition(s) of the agreement reached between the Nigerian government/ASUU, he should have sought it rather than denting the public image of the association by issuing a statement to threaten lecturers when, in the real sense, our threat as an association should be directed at the government that has neglected the educational sector for long.”
The spokesman said the Zone D chapter of NANS has consistently expressed its solidarity for the recent industrial action embarked upon by ASUU, arguing that such aligns with its quest to promote students’ interest.
“As a zonal body, we believe that the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is justifiable and that we need a proper integration to foster a successful outcome and, this has been a basis for us at Zone D, on numerous occasions, establishing our position as following with close marking the demands of ASUU as the union is one part of our academic world,” it added.
“As a zonal body, we reiterate that our role as students is not and cannot be that of a neutral arbiter. Rather, as students, we are duty-bound to give solidarity to ASUU struggle against an anti-poor and anti-education (President Muhammadu) Buhari capitalist government which once it is able to defeat ASUU, will waste no time in pouncing on students as the next victim in its drive to make higher education the preserve of the rich few.
“As a zonal body, we find it nauseating that the NANS President would also subscribe to the fraudulent argument of ‘grass suffering as two elephants fight’ which gives the erroneous impression that students are a neutral entity in a conflict over funding of education between the government and ASUU. In fact, the elephant in this scene is the Nigerian Government while both ASUU and students are the grass.
“We believe that our agitation as a students’ body must never be against ASUU as a body but against the Nigerian government because the responsibility of fulfilling the terms of agreement rests more on the Nigerian government than ASUU. And, if not for governmental failure and how it reneged on promises, there would be no reason for strike action by ASUU or any other union on our campuses.”