The Senate has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to call off its ongoing strike in the interest of Nigerian students.
Senator Jibrin Barau, Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, made the appeal while addressing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that while the Senate sympathized with the union, its members should call off the strike while negotiating with the Federal Government towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
Barau said the Senate, in a letter sent to it by ASUU, learned that part of the grievance was a lack of confidence in the committee set up by the federal government to renegotiate the 2009 agreement.
The lawmaker recalled that when the union declared the warning strike earlier this year, the Senate intervened and ensured that the problem did not linger.
He said that ASUU did not report back to the Senate on the difficulties it had in the renegotiation with the committee before embarking on the strike.
He urged the union to reconsider its position and return to the renegotiation to save the students, parents and the entire nation the negative effects that would result from the action.
Barau assured that the committee would monitor the settlement process between ASUU and the committee set up by the Federal Government to ensure amicable resolution of the problem. He said:
Let me say that we are very concerned about what is happening in our universities.
The Senate and indeed, the National Assembly, has been in the forefront of making sure that we act swiftly whenever it is necessary to nip in the bud any problem that is rearing its head.
I want to say that it was the reason why we decided to intervene immediately when the warning strike action was about to take place and we did all our best to bring the two teams together to negotiate.
That was what led to the setting up of the Wale Babalakin committee.
ASUU raised issues that had to do with their allowances and part of it was captured in the supplementary budget that we passed as of that time.
In the subsequent budgets, some of these areas were also taken care of.
Asked if the Senate would promulgate a law to bar Nigerians from taking their children outside the country to study, Barau said that such law would not be in the best interest of Nigeria.
It is something that we know will not be good for our country.
We know that it is always good to mingle with people from other parts of the world when it comes to the issue of education.
You cannot be an island to yourself; that you will remain here in Nigeria and say you would not want to interface with others.
It is not something that has been done in any part of the world.
You are aware that students from Cameroon, Niger and other parts of the world come here.
We have exchanged students who come from even the European nations to this country.
You must have that interaction. What we should say is this: we should make sure that we develop universities and educational institutions to the level of those that we send our children to.
That is something that should be done. But saying that students should not go to other countries, that I think is not going to be good for us.
Both the Federal Government and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) have also pleaded with ASUU to call off the indefinite strike.