Senate President Bukola Saraki says the lingering strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which has shuttered institutions of higher learning since November 4, 2018, will disenfranchise young and first-time voters who intend to cast ballots for their preferred candidates during the general elections.
“The education of Nigeria’s young people is being negatively affected by the stance of the government and is also disenfranchising the youths, many of whom are registered to vote in their universities — but are now stuck in their homes”, Saraki said in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu.
Saraki said since young people constitute 51 percent of registered voters, keeping them at home is inimical to the country’s democratic process.
Saraki also said the senate under him did try to avert the strike.
“In November 2016, the senate intervened in the ASUU strike and met with the officials of the Ministries of Education and Labour, Employment and Productivity and the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
“At that meeting, which was attended by the Minister of State for Education Anthony Anwuka and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Productivity in the National Assembly, we agreed that the federal government should work to implement the agreement that it reached with ASUU in 2009, and subsequently, we set up a sub-committee to liaise with both ASUU and the federal government on this issue.
“The federal government must immediately work to address the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ( ASUU), because this issue goes beyond negotiations.
It is affecting the education of Nigeria’s students, and disenfranchising many of them from participating in the upcoming general elections.
“Make no mistake, we cannot continue this system whereby our universities will be frequently shut down, thereby slowing down the education of our young people — and creating negative bottlenecks that place unnecessary stress on our universities”.
The senate president thereafter called on the federal government to immediately end the strike to enable students head back to their various schools ahead of the elections so they can cast their ballots.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) commenced “Operation no resumption, no election” campaign this week.
The lecturers downed tools to protest poor remuneration and funding of universities by the federal government.