The National Union of Benue State Students, NUBESS, and other student Unions in the state have given the Federal Government, FG, fourteen (14) days ultimatum to settle its differences with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in order to call off the prolonged industrial action or face a massive protest by the students.
NUBESS National president, Comrade Injorovkaa D. Gaius, stated this at a press conference on Friday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Comrade Injorovkaa who lamented that the FG has turned deaf ears to the strike expressed worry that, “for several years now, it has become virtually hard for students to graduate in Government owned institutions in recent time without extension to the duration of their courses of study due to incessant strikes”.
The NUBESS president who faulted president Muhammadu Buhari for his failure to end ASUU strike commended Governor Samuel Ortom for having the interest of students at heart. According to him, the Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi has not gone on strike since Ortom came on board as Governor.
“Since he has become the Governor of Benue State, Benue State University has no record of strike. Ortom led administration is not willing to let the Benue Students experience strike”, the NUBESS president stated.
But contrary to Comrade Injorovkaa’s statement, a BSU top official told SkyNews on condition of anonymity that the University has embarked on strike twice under Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration.
“What do you call this one that is ongoing? Is it not strike? Is BSU not on strike now?
“BSU was on strike when Governor Samuel Ortom came on board in 2015 but he negotiated and the institution reopened. After that, a National ASUU strike took place last year which was during Covid-19 and many people did not know and then we are on strike now. So two strikes have taken place under Governor Samuel Ortom to the best of my knowledge”, the official said.
The Student Union (SU) president, Benue State University Makurdi, Comrade Adih Chocho, who spoke on the sidelines of the Press conference corroborated what the BSU official said when he called on Governor Samuel Ortom and the State Assembly Speaker, Rt. Hon. Titus Uba, to end the ASUU strike in their own capacity. He cited example about Kogi State where the state owned university has not joined the industrial action which is an indication that a Governor is capable of avoiding or calling off ASUU national strike in his state.
“My question to the Governor, his Deputy and the Speaker is that, have they ever wondered why BSU is on strike? It’s all about solidarity, we have so many universities that are not on strike. I know very well that Kogi State University is not on strike.
“I want to talk to Governor Samuel Ortom, if there is any way BSU students can resume back to class as the national strike lingers he should do it and I know he can do it very well.
“I was supposed to graduate since last year but I’m at home now doing nothing”, Chocho said.
A 300-Level BSU student who did not want his name mentioned wondered whether the NUBESS president, Comrade Injorovkaa Gaius, simply acted a script written by the State Government when he denied that ASUU has never gone on strike under Governor Samuel Ortom adminstration.
Also speaking on the sidelines, SU president, Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University Makurdi, Senator Gundu Mimidoo Joy, said ASUU strike has affected Students adversely because some of them have become idle and decide to indulge in social vices and cybercrime.
“Recently, we buried a student who committed suicide and left a letter that he died of depression. The ASUU strike is affecting not only us the Students, it’s affecting even those who sell on campus, lecturers and others. But when two elephants fight, the ground suffers, so the students are the most affected”, Comrade Gundu lamented.
She expressed worry that the incessant ASUU strikes were making it difficult for Nigerian graduates to get white collar jobs as a result of overage hence the need for the FG and the striking unions to shift grounds in the interest of students.