Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, initially walked out of a meeting with students on Monday morning over what he reportedly described as the student leaders’ rude behavior, later met with the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the National Universities Commission’s headquarters (NUC).
He told demonstrators that the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) striking workers will soon return to the classrooms.
The minister stated in a succinct statement published late Monday night by the ministry’s director of press, Ben Goong, that the current negotiating process has been constructive “and is anticipated to result in the swift return of the striking teachers to lectures.”
The statement, which was shared with PREMIUM TIMES late Monday night, reads as follows: “Education Minister Adamu Adamu met with NANS officials in Abuja to calm tensions surrounding the ongoing ASUU strike. The procedure should result in the restoration of academic activity on our campuses.”
The director, however, did not provide specifics about the meeting with the student leaders.
Channels Television footage of the minister’s walk-out on the kids had already appeared on the internet, with many Nigerians criticizing Mr Adamu for his “bad behaviour.”
The minister also expressed discontent with the manner in which he was addressed by NANS President Sunday Asefon, who reportedly accused the minister of being uncaring about the situation of Nigerian students.
Mr Asefon stated in his Monday presentation to the minister, “The key issue ASUU has continued to press is the revitalization of our institutions, which is critical for all students to understand.” However, you cannot debate institutional revitalization without include Nigerian students on the negotiation committee.
“Nigerian students are interested in serving on this committee. We want to know the truth about the relationship between ASUU and the federal government… We are tired of our education sector’s perpetual strike.
“Honourable Minister, we observed you celebrating your son’s graduation from a university outside this nation on social media. Our parents do not have the financial means to take us abroad. However, let us take pleasure in what we have paid for. We want to ensure that education is adequately funded in this country.
“If our schools remain closed, this will not be the final demonstration. This is not a threat; we stated our intention to come out and here we are. Today, the Niger Road, Benue Road, and Adamawa Road are all closed. If caution is not used, this might become worse than EndSARS.”
Apparently enraged by the points expressed, the minister allegedly informed the protesting students that the only thing worth noting about the issues was their involvement in the negotiating process.
“You should have met your lecturers there instead of coming here. Perhaps the only point you make that is worth noting is that you stated that students should be active, which I believe is a very positive thing. And it is the only thing I will take away from what you have said here,” the minister allegedly stated as he exited his conference room where he spoke with them.”
The minister was joined at the meeting by the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abdulrasheed Abubakar, and the registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Is-haq Oloyede, as well as other officials from the education ministry’s agencies.
However, later that night, the minister came to meet with the irate students, joined by the directors of several education ministry agencies, including Messrs Abubakar and Oloyede.
According to the NANS president, the decision to meet with the minister was made in order to address the ongoing situation and return students to school.
Mr Asefon told our correspondent on Tuesday morning: “All we stated was that we would not return to the ministry of education.” As a result, they agreed to see us in the offices of the NUC, where we restated our requests.
“The minister demonstrated papers demonstrating efforts to resolve all difficulties, and we emphasized that if the strike is not called off before the one-month deadline, the #EndSars demonstration will be child’s play.”
He stated that the minister asked for patience and that the mediation meeting will continue today in an attempt to end the strike.
“He stated that the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement was unsustainable but that a new viable agreement was being finalized for both sides’ signing,” he continued.