The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd) has pleaded with the Academic Staff Union of Universities to bring an end to their ongoing industrial strike action.
ASUU, which had been on strike since February 24, announced a 12-week extension, effective from May 8, after the government failed to reach the union’s demand.
However, Buhari appealed to the union at the 19th National Productivity Day Awards, according to his aide, Femi Adesina.
Buhari urged the union to consider the plight of students and call off the ongoing strike.
Subsequently, he urged students in Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions to exercise patience as the government strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the ambit of the resources available.
Buhari recalled that he had earlier directed the Chief of Staff, Hon. Ministers of Labour and Employment, Education, Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to again critically look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU and in fact all other University-based labour unions.
On the theme of this year’s celebration ‘‘Achieving Higher Productivity through Improved Education System,’’ the President pledged that the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to uplift the standard of the educational system in the country, Adesina added.
‘‘Therefore, if we desire to transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy, improving our educational system should be accorded the highest priority.
‘‘Quality educational system is good not just for the national economy; it is also good for the citizens.
‘‘Ignoring the productivity dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty and social exclusion.
‘‘It will be difficult to improve our economic performance and overall productivity, without improving our educational system.
‘‘Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system,’’ he said.
To address these challenges, Buhari said his administration has reviewed the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, while years of service have now been moved from 35 to 40 years to encourage more graduates to join the teaching profession.
Similarly, the President said the government has also approved a special salary scale for teachers in Basic and Secondary schools including provisions for rural posting allowance, Science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance while prioritising timely promotion and prompt payment of salaries.
Furthermore, the President said the reintroduction of bursary awards to education students in universities and Colleges of Education comes with the assurance of automatic employment upon graduation as well as payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students.