The two-month-old university teachers’ strike, for which no resolution is in sight, government’s declaration that the dreaded Boko Haram sect had been extensively weakened and unstable electricity supply were the major stories in Nigeria this week.
The VANGUARD ran two stories on the strike under the headlines, ‘No headway as ASUU battles govt over extra allowances, funding’, and ‘ASUU Strike: Comply with lecturers’ demands, Parents beg FG.’
In its second story, the VANGUARD said it spoke to some parents whose children were affected as they begged the government to reach a compromise with ASUU.
Recalling that ‘it’s been two months since the Academic Staff Union of Universities embarked on a nationwide indefinite strike’, the paper said the deadlock was the result of the inability of the Federal Government to implement some of the issues contained in a 2009 agreement it had with ASUU.
According to one of the parents, Mr. Ohwaguono Onos, ‘Government is not feeling the strike because their children are in private universities.’
Mr. Onos, a parent and a post-graduate student of University of Lagos (UNILAG), said: “The ASUU strike has made my children shift focus to other things that are costing me additional funds I didn’t budget for. And parents who cannot engage their wards in these suffer distress and heartaches because of the nuisance the students constitute at home. One thing I have learnt is that after each episode of strike, the students are no more focused even when they resume lectures because they have been out for so long. ASUU went on strike because they want the government to come to their plight and help them.
“If the Senators can have sitting and sleeping allowances, then the builders of these characters should be considered; they are the lecturers. My only pain is that these ones in government are not feeling it because their own children are not in the Federal and State universities. Their children are abroad schooling, their children are in private universities. Most of the people in sensitive government positions are the owners of most private Universities which are funded by our own money. How can the strike affect the government? Our plea is for the government to listen to the masses, listen to ASUU and help them.’
Another parent, Mrs Oluranti Olushola, a teacher, who said her son was affected by the strike, screamed that ‘the Federal government should meet the demands of the lecturers’.
She pleaded that the Federal Government should help them so that their children can go back to school.
Another teacher, Mrs Ruquiyat Adebayo, said that that ASUU’s demands were genuine and urged the government to make any sacrifice to improve the education sector.
On Boko Haram, The GUARDIAN, with the headline ‘Boko Haram Progressively Weakened, Says Jonathan’, quoted President Goodluck Jonathan as declaring that the the insurgent group, Boko Haram, had been progressively weakened by the security strategy put in place by the government.
According to the paper, the President stated this at an audience with the outgoing Representative of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. David Mac Rae.
He said the measures taken by his administration had resulted in a significant reduction in the occurrence of terrorist attacks in the country, noting that the federal government would keep on doing everything possible to further enhance security in all parts of the country.
“As a government, we are doing everything possible to improve our country on all fronts. We are consistently adapting our security architecture to deal with terrorism which has become a challenge to the whole world. Boko Haram is being progressively weakened but we are not resting on our oars. We will continue to do everything possible to achieve greater security for all who reside within our borders.”
The President said that his administration would continue to do its best to correct negative perceptions about Nigeria, especially concerning widespread insecurity and corruption.
He welcomed the declaration by the outgoing ambassador that he had recently travelled to the Niger Delta and some Northern states and found people there going about their normal lives and businesses without fear.
President Jonathan urged him to assist in correcting current misconceptions about Nigeria by taking that positive message to the EU and the rest of the world.
He also commended the EU for its support toward improving the electoral process in Nigeria and assured Mac Rae that Nigeria would act to facilitate the early conclusion of a partnership agreement between ECOWAS and the EU.
On electricity, the VANGUARD, with the headline ‘We’re committed to effective power supply – Nebo’, reported that the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, had applauded the successes already recorded in the power sector transformation agenda.
Professor Nebo, who spoke with a cross-section of the Nigerian media recently in Abuja, said that slow and steady progress had been recorded especially in government’s efforts to boost power supply in some parts of the country.
In a definitive tone of assurance, the minister stated: “We are determined to give light to Nigerians and we will surely do that. Indeed, government’s interventions in critical projects in the generation, distribution and transmission companies have led to obvious improvement in power supply in some parts of the country as evidenced by a litany of testimonies across the country.’
According to the VANGUARD, ‘Recently jubilation broke out in parts of South East Anambra State, in appreciation of significant improvement in electricity.’
However, the situation is different in some other parts of the country.
With the headline ‘Kano groaning under epileptic power supply’, the VANGUARD reported that Kano was one of the states in the federation that was groaning under epileptic power supply, quoting statistics made available by manufacturers.
It said that the Ministry of Power was supposed to supply Kano zone that comprised Katsina, Jigawa , Kano and Niger Republic with 8 per cent of the total power generation based on distribution formula, but what was being handed to the zone was just 3 per cent.
The National Vice President of the Association, North West zone, Alhaji Ali Safiyanu Madugu, told reporters in Kano that “discriminatory sharing of power to the state has led to the closure of 400 industries over the last 20 years with its attendant social consequence”.
He said “this culture of discrimination has robbed Kano its status as the hub of industrialists”, stressing that the “property owning class no longer consider it worthy to invest here because of the rising cost of energy”.