Nigerian Senate President Ahmad Lawan has called on the striking members of the University Academic Staff Union, ASUU, to suspend the strike for the sake of students.
Lawan made the call during a meeting in Abuja between ASUU leadership and some top Senate officials on Monday.
The Senate president said that both the government and ASUU have to find common ground for universities to reopen and offer the kind of services expected of the country’s universities.
“We don’t need this kind of situation where our universities are closed because our children are the main victims of this.
“We cannot afford as a country to continue having this type of crisis.
“This may explain why those who can afford it will typically leave the country, including West African countries like Ghana, for a university education.
“I think our universities may be better, but they are better than most of these universities that our children go to in other African countries especially.
“The idea is to find out how we can solve the pending problems and it is supposed to be a give and take situation.
“The government cannot get away with it and I think ASUU should not expect to get everything it has asked for.
“It is a very stressful economic situation and I think that the government, even in these kinds of situations, is supposed to play its role.
“ASUU, I know, is prepared to meet the government midway in some way because I am sure we have a joint determination to solve these problems.
“The National Assembly is the best place to go because although on the one hand we are a government, on the other hand we represent the people, we represent you.
“We represent the families and children who are now home because the universities are closed.
“I think that as parliamentarians we have to tell the truth, as no matter how bitter it is in the right place and time.
“When we sign agreements we must do so with the full intention of implementing them.
“Furthermore, when we negotiate, we must do so in such a way that the final product is implementable.
“This means that we have to accommodate each other while the government does its part, ASUU is our faculty body, it must protect its members, but everyone else in the country must make sure that our universities remain open and functioning.
”Because it doesn’t help anyone that the universities are closed.
“I am sure that we need to review some of the points of the agreements, I do not know who it will hurt when I say that, but the reality is that a lot has happened.
“We cannot have an agreement signed in 2009 and we still believe that this is the only way to tackle it.
“We should be able to take a look at the signed agreements and see at this point if some of the issues are really viable or not.
“We have to be realistic. I always have the belief that the government should not sign agreements when it knows that it cannot implement them.
“In any situation, the government is practical and ASUU, being a very patriotic body, will understand with the government when there is sincerity and honesty in the negotiation of such agreements,” he said.