A former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili, has called for an urgent “neutral approach” from well-meaning Nigerians to the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, saying that the strike “is now beyond government and the union”.
Ezekwesili who spoke on the sidelines of a one-day dialogue on Education in Abuja on Thursday, said both parties have so far failed to set the ground rules for a principal negotiation.
“This is no longer a matter between the government and ASUU, this has become a matter between the people of Nigeria, government and ASUU,” she noted.
The former minister recommended a way out of the dilemma: “I think the citizens must now demand a neutral approach in the search for a solution to the kind of university system that we want to run. In this drive, we must see the need for urgency”.
Earlier, Ahmed Makarfi, a senator and former governor of Kaduna State, noted that Nigeria as multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, had all the necessary ingredients to develop into a great nation.
Makarfi expressed regrets that lack of purposeful leadership from the country’s birth had stifled its march to progress.
“It doesn’t take much to see that if we have as a people harnessed and deployed our disparate individual endowments and abilities in pursuit and promotion of the collective good of the country, no force will be capable of stopping our historic march to greatness,” he said.
He noted that government on its part had at various times come up with measures that would facilitate integration and unity, but ineffective implementation of policies had continued to deter progress.
Makarfi maintained that only an effective education system, delivered in appropriate environment, would enable Nigerians see things in their proper context.
House of representative member, Nnenna Ukeje, who co-chaired the event, said unity schools were the greatest investment in human resource that Nigeria had ever made.
Ukeje said instead of fostering the ideals for which unity schools were established, things that bind the country together were being downplayed, while those things that divide us were exaggerated.
The dialogue, organised by Unity Schools Old Students’ Association, USOSA, had the theme “Good Governance and National Unity”.