AHEAD of preparations by various political parties to elect their presidential candidates for the 2023 general elections, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has warned that no convention would be allowed to hold at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, unless the ongoing strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was bought to an end.
NANS President, Sunday Asefon, presented the association’s position in a statement seen by The ICIR on Sunday.
Asefon warned that the students body would do everything to specifically disrupt the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) anywhere they are held in the country if the strike was not called off.
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He declared,” Let me say without mincing words: the two major political parties should forget any political gathering in Abuja or elsewhere except there is solution to the lingering ASUU strike.
“We will frustrate all the activities leading to selection of party candidates if we remain on strike. We also want to advise the government and the politicians who are busy campaigning to be President to either resolve the ASUU crisis or give direct orders to security operatives to shoot us at sight during party conventions to select presidential candidates. If we remain on strike, they should just forget it.”
NANS said it had given all the warring parties in the strike enough time to end the lingering crisis between them and allow students to resume in their respective classes, but the parties had failed.
“We have given mediators time to prevail on the Federal Government to resolve issues with ASUU and ensure our students resume to their different campuses, but it seems all mediation failed, or is failing as the case may be,” its president said.
It also expressed anger that those saddled with ensuring the smooth running of the education sector, including the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had the “guts” to express interest in participating in the 2023 elections, while the strike persists.
“We are surprised by their effrontery and total disrespect to the Nigerian people for having the courage to even moot the idea of contesting, talk less of picking up the N100 million presidential form while students languish at home because of their collective failures.
“Politicians have shown no concern to the plight of the students but are only busy in their selfish and inordinate ambitions to become the next President,” the body stated.
NANS noted that politicians were only concerned about the next elections, while students were more concerned about the education of the next generation.
ASUU had embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 18, 2022 to demand funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Other demands include the endorsement of the renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, which it said was concluded in May 2021; release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities, and distortions in salary payment challenges.
On March 14, 2022, the union announced that it would continue its roll-over strike for another eight weeks to enable the Federal Government address issues in concrete terms.