The Chairman, Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof. Debo Adeyewa, and the Vice-Chancellor, Kwara State University, Prof. Abdulrasheed Na’Allah, have called for an end to strikes in Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions.
Speaking on Monday during the opening ceremony of the ongoing 32nd Conference of the AVCNU at the Kwara State University, Malete Campus, both vice-chancellors described strikes as inimical to national and educational development. Noting that all stakeholders in the education sector must address the challenges that lead to strikes, they urged Nigerian universities to proffer solutions to national problems and lead the way in national development.
In his address, Adeyewa called for the total elimination of strikes. He said, “Strikes are no options. They should be totally eliminated. But the government must do its bit by providing the financial resources to take care of the needs of the universities. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore were in the same position that we were many years ago. But they made significant investments in education and that is why they are where they are today.”
Na’Allah noted that there could be no development without universities. Citing as an example the role played by universities in the United States in transforming the country into a global leader in terms of technological, agricultural, invention and economic development, he said Nigerian universities had no other choice than to help to develop the nation.
He urged universities not to rely solely on the government for subventions to address their financial needs but to be committed to research, innovation, teaching and learning.
Na’Allah said, “We need to tell the truth to ourselves: If we are determined to have first-century universities, which is the theme of our conference, we must desist from the current scenario where universities have been closed forever.
“We have to have the courage of insisting that our universities are not theatres for strikes. Instead, they are theatres for research.
“This conference will not succeed if, at the end of the day, we do not bring solution the various problems and find ways to collaborate to move the university system forward; and how we will collaborate with the government to stop incessant strikes and closures in our universities.”
Also, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State said that tertiary institutions were globally recognised as assemblers of talent, and unmatched idea factories; where the passion, creativity, and idealism of great minds, young and old, could be applied to problem-solving and advancing societal and economic well-being.
He noted, however, that in view of global changes, there was a need for graduates with the right skills and mindsets to compete in the high-tech global knowledge economy.
Ahmed said, “Consequently, it falls on educational institutions such as universities to ensure graduates are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to enhance their productivity and promote economic growth.”
The governor said all hands must be on deck to re-position the nation’s university education and make it competitive in the 21st century.