About three months after they embarked on a strike, the non-teaching staff of Nigerian universities are set for a nationwide protest.
The protest which is tagged “peaceful rally”, will take place on March 8.
The spokesperson of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Abdussobur Salaam, said this in a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday.
According to him, the rally will start at the Unity fountain, Abuja, move to the federal Ministry of Education and then to the National Assembly.
He said the union will be seeking audience with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on how to resolve the lingering crisis.
The affected unions are the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
Members of the unions commenced an indefinite strike December 4, 2017, accusing the government of violating an agreement it had with them on the formula for sharing N23 billion it released to the universities as earned allowances. The unions are angry that academic staff of the universities reportedly took the lion share of the allowances.
Also, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has blamed the federal government for the lingering strike.
In a statement issued by the national coordinator, Hassan Soweto, on Wednesday, the group accused the federal government of ignoring the unions since the strike started.
According to him, the students have been subjected to terrible living and studying conditions as a result of the stoppage of essential services like water and electricity supply to classrooms, libraries, laboratories, offices and hostels as well as waste disposal due to the strike action.
“For far too long, successive anti-poor governments have treated non-academic workers with disdain. However, this is not to mean that academic workers are treated any better,” Mr Soweto said.
He said no university or any institution can function without non-academic workers.
“We urge SSANU, NASU and NAAT to escalate the strike by organising nationwide mass protests and demonstrations. This is essential to build public support for the strike and pile pressure on the government,” he said.
Mr. Soweto said learning for students has never been this bad and the government is yet to attend to the burning issues.
“We urge the parents and the public to hold the government responsible if any mishap should happen to students in public universities affected by the strike including ill health, outbreak of cholera and other diseases arising from the terrible conditions students in public universities are now subjected,” he said.
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