Comrade Abdulahi Abdulmajeed, President of the apex youth organisation in Nigeria, National President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), in this interview with? MU?SODIQ ADEKUNLE, justifies reasons why ASUU and FG need to resolve issues causing the over 100-day strike action. Excerpts:

What is your take on the ongoing ASUU Strike?

It is worthy of all as I speak today, that the ASUU strike and the faceoff between ASUU and the Federal Government has lacked modesty.? It is no news that the reason behind the lingering strike of the ASUU and the faceoff between the Federal Government and ASUU is based on so many reasons which every one of us believe is justified. It is not news that lingering strike and industrial actions by trade unions in Nigeria has become a phenomenal issue. It has been our position and it will continue to be our position that our ivory towers, the four walls of academia where everyone of us? has actually? been produced, where we have been nurtured to have the skills and the capacity to be useful for the society and our country is a place to yet to be the best.

Do you think the demands by ASUU are justifiable?

?I want to quickly state that the National Youth Council of Nigeria is in no way opposed to justifiable demands of ASUU, what we have problem with is that the fact Nigerian youths, about 30 million of them whom are extracted as I speak to you to be reasonable engaged in their universities, are at home today and we have a problem with that.? As long as I want to say, that those demands that ASUU is making are justifiable and the fact that the Federal Government are set, ASUU has put their demands in context; because everyone understands that in allocating public funds there are limitations due to the numerous demands. Thus means there is a scarce availability of resources that must be prioritized to ensure that every sector of the economy gets the best share.

?It?s undoubtedly that our educational institutions require more, but what we are saying is the fact that, a dynamic approach should be adopted, what we are saying is the fact that, the principle of give and take must be utilized, what we are saying is that, the Federal Government having moved from its action in the beginning of this faceoff, by saying ASUU is either you take what we have or you did not get nothing at all, is a position we condemned.? ?

Why has NYCN decided to intervene?

I will answer you this way; the total membership of ASUU does not exceed 175,000; the membership of National Youth Council of Nigeria, the umbrella body of all Nigerian youths, that I represent, has a membership population of not less than 70million. If ASUU has the right to insist in protecting the rights of its members at any point in time, the discussion of the kit and kin in Nigeria, then I believe the National Youth Council of Nigeria, unarguably has the right at any point in time speak up for its members.

Today, as I speak to you, over 30million Nigerian youths are having hard development process of their lives put on the hold, over 30 million Nigerian youths are been made vulnerable, over 30 million Nigerian youths are made more susceptible to menace in the society, vis-?-vis: kidnapping, vis-?-vis: armed robbery, vis-?-vis: prostitution, vis-?-vis: insurgency, vis-?-vis: advance fee fraud.

?In Nigeria, if you are above the age of 35 today, most institutions, companies and corporate organizations, will not employ you. By elongating the tenure a person should spend in the university before they can even have that certificate, you are furthering endangering their lives and making it difficult to be employable, not forgetting that most graduates of these universities in the first instance come out of the university? half-baked.
So, who do you think should be blamed?

I do not have a problem with ASUU, am not a time to apportion blames, what we are saying is that the plight of the Nigerian youth is brought to fore. We must be concerned about consequences of any action that you take, if the negative implication of the action you have taken will make this country a worst place, then that action you have taken is not patriotic. Shutting the universities and our education sector for a period that is more than 100 days is not acceptable, beyond the fact their demands are justifiable, ASUU must consider the plight of the young people.

I? believe that more needs to be done on both sides, especially because more improvement can still be made, even when ASUU? has gone back to school, we can continue to talk, you must not keep us back at home and on the street, just? because you want to make a point, the weakness is, if the strike continues, ASUU, which is a highly respected institution in the eye of all Nigerians will began to lose respect, because youth as students, who are in support of this strike in the beginning are tired of sitting at home, as we speak, because our future is endanger.

What do you think is the way out?

Our call is a clarion call, and our message is simple. On behalf of Nigerian youths, we appeal to ASUU to change its methodology, adopt an appropriate dynamic position, believe in the principle of dialogue, believe in the doctrine of give and take, let us go for a win-win situation, consider the plight of young Nigerian, the future of this country, as a builder, we want to seek ASUU indulgence to listen to the voice of reason, an call off this strike within the next two weeks, by so doing, you would have shown Nigerians that they are entrusted in the natural core entrusting of all Nigerians, than those with? their own personal interest.

What if ASUU does not go back in two weeks, what action will NYCN take?

Every society that makes peaceful resolution in the first place, makes violent resolution inevitable, young person are known to be vibrant and quite energetic people.
Nigerian youths are already considering a plethora of other mediums and actions to take. Dialogue we believe is the best option, we shall consult and consult, we shall consolidate on our consultations, before we can be talking about confrontation, in every means and protest, that we aim and ensuring the interest of individual group of person is actualized, confrontation is usually the last option.

Have you engage in any form of mediation between ASUU and government?

We have sent series of letters out, we have sent to the national body of ASUU, we?ve written to the Federal Government, through the Honourable Minister of Education, we?ve also gotten responses from one or two quarters; in fact as I talk to you, we?re making arrangement for our third approach, which is the Nigerian Youth National Mediation Committee (NYNMC), we?ll be inaugurating that committee in Abuja. That committee is going to be made up of eminent members and elders of this society, elder statesmen including former presidents of this country, traditional leaders and religious leaders to come together and persuade both sides to yield to voice of reason, to understand that as much as that every party wants to justify their position someone has to shift ground.

Do you say government does not have money to meet ASUU?s demand?

People keep asking this question, government has made so much investment in the aviation sector, government doles out money to Nollywood, do you want to compare N3bn and N100bn, N200bn in aviation, yes we agree; N200bn in aviation, is this N200bn a direct cash injection in aviation? There are so many means which government structure turned into a sector facilities.

Today, government is saying ASUU, N100bn immediately, next year N200bn, our own position in this matter is that government should demonstrate commitment in convincing us that the N200bn will be available. The budgetary allocation procedure will soon start, tell the agencies of government to with immediate effect factor out that into the position of education, as far as, that is done, for me it is sufficient.

Rome was not built in a day, is it today, you and I have been crying that our educational institutions does not rank from 1 to 5000 in the world, can you actually ameliorate and resuscitate that strategic state in one day?

Do you think it is necessary for Nigeria Union of Teachers and other organisations to embark on solidarity strikes with ASUU?

NUT says it will give solidarity to ASUU. This seems we are not concerned by who are of the age 18-25, who are the youths. If the youths are having challenges, is taking it to younger ones between ages 1-17 the solution? Or is it until we have mass revolution in this country? that we will begin to understand we have emotions, that blood runs in our veins, or we don?t have rights in this country called Nigeria?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.