Commonwealth society to mediate in ASUU/FG impasse

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The Royal Commonwealth Society, Nigeria Branch has pledged to mediate between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government using the instrument of ‘Academic Diplomacy’ to resolve the situation.

The Country Director of the society, Mr Blackson Bayewumi, said this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.

Bayewumi appealed to ASUU to embrace meaningful dialogue, consultations and compromise at resolving the prolonged academic strike, given the fact that the Federal Government was confronted with several other challenges with limited resources.

He urged the union to also consider the lean income of the government to call-off the strike in the interest of the students, their parents and the nation in general.

“It is now essential for the Royal Commonwealth Society Nigeria Branch to intervene in the ongoing industrial action by members of ASUU, in Nigeria after over six months of shutting down academic activities in all public universities.

“There is the Article XI of the Charter of the Commonwealth adopted on Dec. 14, 2012 by Commonwealth Heads of Government, and signed on March 11, 2013 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, of England, and Head of the Commonwealth.

“This article shows that access to education, among others, is accorded high priority by the Charter of the Commonwealth.

“Nigerian universities are members of the Association of Commonwealth Universities which is one of the associations accredited to the Commonwealth,” he said.

Bayewumi said that the association championed higher education as the cornerstone of stronger societies, with a mission to build better world through higher education.

He, therefore, said that the importance of higher education to the social, political, economic, industrial, medical, scientific and technological development of a nation could not be over emphasised.

“Besides, keeping young men and women idle for long at this age should be totally avoided, as the popular saying: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.

“Our esteemed young men and women should be properly educated, mentored and productively engaged for posterity of the country,” he said.

Reports state that the union had been on strike since Feb.14, over alleged refusal of the government to keep to agreement entered with the union.

The union demands included implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU renegotiation Agreement and deployment of UTAS, payment of outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).

Others are payment of promotion arrears, and release withheld salaries of academics.