Echoes from Ilorin town hall meeting with Lai Mohammed

The call for a quick resolution of the lingering industrial disputes between the federal government and Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) topped discussion at a recent town hall meeting called by the minister for information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Ilorin, UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB reports.

Like the recent #ENDSARS peaceful protest that eventually turned bloody across most parts of the country, another ripples seems to be brewing over the lingering industrial face- off between the federal government and the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The indication emerged just recently at the town hall meeting called by the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in the Kwara state capital.

Speakers after speakers at the meeting expressed concerns over the lingering industrial dispute between the federal government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

They called for quick resolution of the lingering ASUU-federal government crisis among other issues and requests that topped discourse at the town hall meeting called by the information and culture minister, Alhaji Mohammed.

Regretting the effects of the prolonged strike embarked upon by the university teachers as a result of the unending friction between ASUU and the federal government, the stakeholders warned of the consequences of such prolong face-off.

They said that, among other inconveniences, idleness created by the eight-month ASUU strike had made the Nigerian youths to be ready tools in hands of trouble makers.

Leading the agitators include the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, chairman of the University of Ilorin chapter of ASUU, Professor Moyo Ajao, president, Kwara state chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Azeez Jaji, among others like parents and professional associations.

Continued strike irritating -Gambari

Sulu-Gambari, who described the lingering strike action as irritating, said that children and wards of poor parents in the country are mostly bearing the brunt of the disagreement between the lecturers and the federal government.

Likening the lingering FG vs ASUU face -off to the case of two proverbial giant elephants fighting the royal father said, “When two elephants are fighting it’s the grass underneath that suffers.

“The issue of the ASUU strike is highly irritating. The poor parents in the country are those who have children in these public universities. They are the ones who suffer the negative effects of the unending ASUU strike.

It’s only the rich that can send their children to private tertiary institutions or abroad for studies. So, I urge the government to look into the issue and resolve it as quickly as possible. Enough is enough. It’s no longer palatable,” he said.

Govt fuels strike – ASUU

Also in his speech, the ASUU chairman, University of Ilorin, Professor Ajao, accused the federal government of discouraging negotiation with the ASUU leadership.

The university don, who accused the federal government of using hunger and starvation to fight striking lecturers, said that the government had refused to pay their salaries in the past eight months.

He also appealed to the government to be more committed to educational and youth development of the Nigerian youths.

Also, the members of NANS who came into the hall singing solidarity songs echoed what the monarch and the lecturer said, calling for immediate and quick resolution of the strike action.

Other issues raised during the town hall meeting include continued border closure, women development, youth empowerment, infrastructural development, etc.

Lai Mohammed’s appeal

In his speech, the convener of the event, minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, delivered a message of President Muhammadu Buhari, appealing to Nigerians, especially youths, to bear with his administration in the face of daunting requests and socio-economic challenges in the country.

The minister, who reminded that the nation was just recovering from ugly effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the #EndSARS protests in many parts of the country, said that the federal government is committed to educational, economic, security and youth development, among other areas of growth to serve people better.

Alhaji Mohammed said that population explosion is part of the challenges facing the nation’s socio-economic development as against fewer population figures of the past, adding that the government would not rest on its oars at making life better for the citizenry.

Speaking on the lingering ASUU-federal government disagreement, the minister said that moves are on to put an end to the strike action, adding that the ministers involved and the ASUU leadership are still working towards amicable resolution of the matter.

On continued border closure, he said that the closure was not aimed at inconveniencing Nigerians, especially women, adding that border closure also had to do with the nation’s security issues, health, promotion of local industrial growth and economic development.

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