President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to return to the classrooms in the interest of their students just as he noted that the striking lecturers had made their point.
The president made the appeal on Saturday in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital at the inauguration of the College of Engineering Complex at the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD).
The three-storey college complex was also named after the President.
Mr. Jonathan pleaded with ASUU to listen to the voice of reason adding that whatever their grievances might be, keeping students out of the lecture rooms for four months was unpatriotic.
His words, “I once again appeal to the entire membership of ASUU to pause and ponder on the adverse effect of their action on the future of the vibrant youths of this great nation.
“The collective destiny of tens of thousands of tomorrow’s leaders should not be held hostage to vagaries of labour disputes.
“As long as we are humans, as long as we are a developing society, this labour dispute must come up.
“I always say that even in the developed societies we hear about labour dispute; and there is no society, even the most developed, that has provided the facilities for every worker.
“Our security services, the Police, the Armed Forces, Navy, Air Force and para-military, intelligent services are also operating in an environment that is not the best.
“If all of us should go on long strike because our environment is not at its optimum, then definitely we can never get the Nigeria of our dream.
“So, let me use this unique opportunity that I am interfacing with our future leaders, our students, to plead with ASUU members.
“If it is a genuine strike keeping students out of classrooms for almost four months, by that they have demonstrated to everybody that they have a case.
“And if the strike is motivated by some other interests, they have also achieved that by keeping students out of schools for more than a semester,” he said.
President Jonathan warned that the freedom of association and the right of workers to go on strike should not be abused to the detriment of the country.
“I believe that labour has the right to go on strike, but in that strike, any action taken must be built on patriotic zeal.
“In as much as you can go on strike, you must be patriotic to our country.
“No matter how and what you feel about Mr President and the federal government, I plead with ASUU that for the sake of our students, they should resume classes,” he said.
The president reassured all that government would continue to work with all Nigerians to build a better country for all and future generation.
He noted that with government’s sincere commitment to improving the qualities of infrastructure in the universities and the operating environment, the striking lecturers should reconsider their stand.
Mr. Jonathan noted that if students of private universities could graduate within three and half years as witnessed in ABUAD, “it is unacceptable that students of public institutions are kept for extra one or two years”.