Former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida has said that the Federal Government’s threat to sack protesting university lecturers if they fail to call of its ongoing strike before Wednesday was not the best way to end the crisis.
Education Minister, Nyesom Wike had last week issued a seven-day ultimatum to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to end their four-month strike or get fired.
However, reacting to Wike’s comment, Babangida, told Daily Trust in Minna that issuing threats was not an effective way of solving the impasse.
According to the former military leader “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,” he said.
“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.
“And 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 interest of the students at heart because they too are parents.
“I am sure both of them can sit down together, talk as Nigerians, 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 handling this problem.”
Speaking on the recent defection of five governors from the People’s Democratic Party to the APC, IBB, as he’s fondly called said the action was normal in a democracy. “What is happening is not the first time such a thing is happening to this country,” he said.
“If we go back to 1959 to the 60s, political parties were in turmoil, some were breaking away and others were forming another political parties. And as recent as during the second republic, political parties have broken. “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, these things are normal.”
He added, “We should learn to accept that this is the basic guaranteed right to accept the status quo or to decide. Once you accept that, it reduces the area of tension. It is my right to say no I don’t like this; it is also your right to say OK. You are entitled to your own opinion; I am entitled to my own opinion. He’s entitled to his own belief; I am entitled to my own belief. Once this common understanding is brought to bear, then you have no problem.”
Recall that the PDP crisis led to the defection of five of its governors a week ago. Babangida insisted that the development was still normal in every democracy.
“I told you this is not new. Awolowo, Azikiwe, Waziri Ibrahim; it all happened to them and for that, it is good for democracy. On 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.”