President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday appealed to the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to return to the classrooms in the interest of the students.
Jonathan made the appeal at the inauguration of the three-storey College of Engineering Complex at the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Ekiti State.
He said that whatever the grievances of the union might be, keeping students out of school for four months was unpatriotic.
“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,” he said.
He added: “As long as we are humans, as long as we are a developing society, this labour dispute must come up…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.”
The President also noted that security operatives in the country – the Police, the Armed Forces, Navy, Air Force and para-military and 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,” he said.
The President stressed that the freedom of association and the right of workers to go on strike should not be abused to harm the country’s interest.
“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,” Jonathan said.
He assured that the government would continue to work with all Nigerians to build a better country for all and future generation, noting that as long government had shown commitment to improving the qualities of infrastructure in the universities and the operating environment, ASUU should reconsider its stand.
Governors Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, Ramalan Yero of Kaduna, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe and the host governor, Kayode Fayemi, attended the ceremony.
Also in attendance were Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, Minister of State for FCT, Olajumoke Akinjide and a senator, Phillip Aduda.
The Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Festus Adejugbe, other traditional rulers and prominent citizens from the state were also in attendance.