Leaders the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) will be meeting the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) towards ending the eight-month-old strike by university lecturers.
NANS said the aim of the meeting is finding a “centre point for amicable resolution” to ensure that students in public universities return to school.
The newly elected NANS’ President, Sunday Asefon, stated this at a a press conference on Monday in Abuja.
ASUU began the nationwide strike on March 23 to press for the release of funds for revitalisation of universities and university workers’ earned allowance, constitution of visitation panels for the universities, payment of shortfall in salaries of lecturers, and a stop to the use of the payment platform, IPPIS, for payment of salaries in the universities.
The union proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a replacement for the controversial IPPIS.
As part of the efforts to end the eight-month-old strike, the federal government last week reconstituted its team to renegotiate the 2009 agreements with lecturers.
Mr Asefon said he would be consulting with the representatives of the two feuding parties to find a common ground to end the prolonged strike.
“I am convinced that this high-level consultation will yield a positive result and we will not have to resort to mobilising students to mount any protest to this ridiculous long stay at home.
“NANS, under my watch, will not be complicit to such unending strike and never again will Nigerian students have to stay home this long,” he said.
He also said NANS would fight against victimisation of students leaders and activists on campuses.
“Arbitrary expulsion, suspension, and rustication of students for dissent and peaceful protest shall be met with stiff opposition from NANS,” he said.
Mr Asefon also said NANS would be working with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) “with the aim of providing legal representation for victimised students across the 36 states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.”
Mr Asefon said the new leadership of the students’ association would build strategic partnership with development organisations to ensure students on campuses enjoy better welfare in terms of ICT, Smart Campus, and access to resources for research and academic productivity.
“We will also be working with Nigerian students in diaspora to ensure that their welfare is guaranteed, and their expectations met, by the Nigerian Government.
“Nigerian students abroad on scholarships will find in our leadership, a strategic partner to fight their cause and prevent them from experiencing any further humiliation on account of unmet expectations by the Government,” he said .
“My administration shall also be working with the private sector, especially those that provides services on our campuses to ensure they support the campus community in complimenting the effort of government and institution managements to ensure that the students enjoy better welfare.”
However, on EndSARS protest, Mr Asefon said the association does not recognise the movement because it does not have a leader.
“Any protest that is faceless, NANS under my watch will not be party to it,” he said.
Mr Asefon said a protest would not solve the problem of police criminality because the Inspector-General of Police has dissolved the SARS unit.
According to Sahara Reporters, the 45-year-old Mr Asefon, reported to be a student of Ekiti State University, was elected on Thursday, December 3 alongside other NANS executives at a National Convention of the students body in Abuja.
The convention, which held at the Old Parade ground, was allegedly disrupted by violence with about 20 members of the association sustaining injuries of varying degrees.
Mr Asefon succeeded Danielson Akpan as the president of the association.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Akpan was impeached for alleged financial impropriety.
Mr Akpan assumed office in July 2018 and served beyond his 12-month tenure which caused complaints among officials and students.