by Ayobami Olopade
Former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday condemned the threat by the Federal Government to sack striking lecturers if they do not return to work by Wednesday.
Supervising Minister for Education, Nyesom Wike, had, in a show of power, last week issued a seven-day ultimatum to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end their four-month strike or lose their jobs, giving them a deadline of Wednesday, December 4th, 2013.
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) responded by calling the government’s bluff insisting that they would not be intimidated into resuming work.
Speaking to Daily Trust newspaper in Minna, Babangida stated that issuing threats was not a good way to resolve the issues. “Basically, I’ll say both Federal Government and ASUU should apply knowledge and tactfulness in resolving this issue. Issues are never settled by threat and you need to settle quarrel in a tactful way. For those of us who believe in Islam, Allah (SWA) instructed his Prophet (PBUH) that if he wants to bring people into his religion, he should use his knowledge and tactics in talking to people.”
He continued, “I think this is what is supposed to happen between the Federal Government and ASUU. I am sure the members of ASUU are patriots; they have the interests of the students at heart because they too are parents. I am sure both of them can sit down together, talk as patriots and as people who are concerned because at the end of the day, if that is not done, quarrelling and threat will not solve this problem. Apply knowledge and tactics in solving this problem.”
The Federal Government was reportedly angered by ASUU’s refusal to end the industrial action after President Jonathan’s 13-hour long meeting with leaders of the union where they reportedly promised to get back to the president after meeting with their members, only for the union to raise some new demands such as payment of four months salary incurred while the strike lasted as well as signing of the agreement by the Attorney General before the strike could be called off which prompted the issuing of the ultimatum.
General Babangida also lent his voice to the recent decampment of Five PDP governors to the All Progressives Congress, saying it was not unusual.
“What is happening is not the first time such a thing is happening to this country. If we go back to 1959 to 60s, political parties were in turmoil, some were breaking away and others were forming political parties. And as recent as the second republic, political parties have broken,” he said.
He continued “I think this is one of the good things about democracy. The constitution allows us to form our opinion, to have an opinion and to spread such opinion. I think to me, such things are normal. In our part, we are building a democracy in which at the end of the day, sanity and common sense will prevail and Nigeria becomes the beneficiary.”