Some education stakeholders have expressed divergent views over the ongoing warning nationwide strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC).
The strike began from 12 mid night on Wednesday after the ultimatum the unions had issued to the Federal Government failed to yield results.
The labour unions are agitating the collapse of negotiation for an upward review of minimum wage for the country’s labour force.
A former Minister of Education, Prof. Nora Obaji, said that there was need for both the unions and the Federal Government to sit together and resolve the issue amicably, once and for the benefit of the country.
Obaji told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that there was nothing good that had ever come out from disagreements and strikes.
“I am personally not in support of the strike because the buck normally ends on the table of the poor masses.
“I think it is time for both the government and the labour unions to begin to look inwards and see how we can move this country forward collectively to its desired height.
“We do not have any other country but Nigeria. We must all play by the roles and in doing that, we should start with our leaders.
“For a long time now, our National Assembly has been on recess and the citizens have been carrying on with their day to day activities, and no one seem to be complaining.
“If we should use the amount of money we are paying them to impact on lives, perharps, there would have been no need for any agitation. And therefore, the question now is, do we really need them?
“We must realise that such long period of recess cannot be tolerated in some other countries, so, we must have to look inward as a people.
“I will always insist that if we want to copy, we must copy well because the American system which we claim to be copying their style of governance does not operate like this,” she said.
She also urged the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) to back down on their planned strike as well, by engaging the government amicably on their demands and finding a lasting solution.
“Like I have noted, strikes have not done us any good, especially the academia.
“Whenever these strikes are embarked upon for, our children are the ones who suffer, even after they have paid their school fees.
“We have some members of ASUU who are now part of the same government we are talking about.
“So, I will suggest that these members of ASUU also find time to look inwards by engaging these their colleagues and find out the true position of things and see how things could work out amicably.
“On the other hand, government must also learn to respect agreements it willfully entered into and not wait for the declaration of strike before doing the needful because each time we go on strike, we are disrupting a lot of things.
“It should always strive to win the confidence and trust of the people by doing what it is supposed to do,” she said.
Prof. Lai Olurode, a one time Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, said it was unfortunate that negotiations between the labour unions in the country are allowed to drag for too long.
According to him, things are not generally rosy for an average Nigerian worker considering the states of the public social services.
“It is not a hidden fact that we spend a lot to maintain and sustain people in government, while paying little attention to other social services.
“Government should not make itself a luxury to maintain people there but rather strive in investing hugely on human capacity development.
“The issue is not just clamouring for a better pay package for the workers but rather ensure that infrastructure are fixed.
“Government must set the ball rolling by patronising our public social services like health, education access and other social securities.
“The masses will always agitate for a better pay package, if these things are not in place or not in good shape where they are available available, so that they will able to look elsewhere for such services.
“If government should provide and maintain infrastructure, agitation for increase in salaries will reduce considerably,” the former INEC National Commissioner told NAN.
A senior lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU) who pleaded anonymity, said that there was no going back on the NLC strike, adding that government had over stretched the patience of the ordinary Nigerian worker, just like it had done to ASUU. (NAN)