Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, stated that all hands must be on deck 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 the end of an eight-month strike.
ASUU had demanded, among other things, improved welfare and the revitalization of public universities.
While thanking the Federal Government and the ASUU leadership for reaching an agreement to end the strike, Gbajabiamila stated that it is now time to “admit certain harsh truths and take radical action.”
He regretted the strike’s eight-month duration and stated that it should never 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.”
Gbajabiamila’s intervention, along with that of other House members, was critical in bringing the eight-month-old strike to a close after the Federal Government dragged ASUU to court.
The Gbajabiamila committee was able to broker a truce between both parties after meeting with President Buhari twice last week.
While the Federal Government (FG) has not met all of ASUU’s demands, it has made concessions.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated in his budget presentation speech last week that ₦470 billion has been earmarked in the 2023 budget for revitalisation and salary increases in the nation’s tertiary institutions, addressing some of ASUU’s main demands.
However, the President also stated that the government cannot continue to provide the resources needed to fund tertiary education on its own.
“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 went on to say that his administration was committed to implementing agreements reached with labor unions within the constraints of available resources.