Former President Goodluck Jonathan, has explained how he resolved four months strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during his administration.
Jonathan gave a graphic picture of what he did to end the strike during the 70th birthday celebration of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah in Abuja.
According to him, “Now we are talking about ASUU strike. Even my time too, ASUU had four months strike. Different committees were meeting and meeting and nothing was working. I said, how can our students stay out of school for four good months?
“I had to call a meeting of all the leadership of ASUU. I presided over the meeting with my Vice President, the Attorney-General was there. I said that night, we must solve that problem.
“Attorney-General was there, the Secretary to the Government was there, the Ministers of Education were there, the Labour Ministers were there, the Finance Ministers were there, everybody that it has to do with.
“And I thought that my being there will help ASUU to do things quickly. But we spent the whole night. Before we finished, it was like 5:30am and the strike was called off.”
The former president also said the country may not be where Nigerians it to and should be, but that Nigerians should not give up or lose hope by focusing on only the negative.
He added that judging from where Nigerians are coming from since independence in 1960, the country may have been moving slowly in the journey of nationhood, but it is a journey of progress, all the same.
“Our greatness is still work in progress because we have not been able to adequately deploy the enviable human and natural resources that God gave us, to full advantage. It is a task we will continue to work on and improve.
“A nation is an organic being that sometimes suffers setbacks. Along the line, from 1960, the nation no doubt has had its own doses of setbacks. This cuts across civil and military rule. The worst was the three-year civil war. In every set back, there are always lessons to be learnt and positive take always from such painful experiences that should guide us to a more productive future.
“Obviously, many people, especially our youth are becoming increasingly disillusioned about our politics and our democracy. However, we must remain on the democratic path because it is the only practical way of effectively managing our diversity, developing sustainably and recording progress as a nation.
“The task before all of us is not to lower our guard, lest the democracy we cherish today, succumbs to threats and recedes into fascism tomorrow.
“Towards this goal, we are again faced with a good opportunity of choosing our leaders as the nation prepares to go to the polls next year. Let us choose those that will take us to the desired destination and the promised land.
“I am particularly thrilled that Nigerian youths are participating actively in the politics of 2023,” Jonathan stated.
Jonathan also bemoaned the level of religious crisis in the country, submitting that Nigeria has the worst religious crisis in Africa.
In his remarks, Fayemi urged Kukah to keep speaking truth to power.
Fayemi said: “Kukah is a man of many parts and he has ruffled feathers. In fact, he loves to ruffle feathers. And I don’t know any government that has been in this country…
“President Jonathan is right here. If you ask him, how did you cope with Bishop Kukah? If you ask President Obasanjo, he will tell you about a letter from Bishop Kukah. And if you ask Sani Abacha, ha ha ha ha! Not even our very own President Muhammadu Buhari, who is a very good friend, but whom he has engaged in rather in reverend manner, including through the Christmas sermon regularly.
“So, I won’t say at 70, stop the good trouble. No! You have to continue the good trouble for the good of our country,” Fayemi said.
On his part, Lalong said his prayer is that there are certain things Kukah said about him, but at 70, he should not say them again.
“Because you now have a lot of wisdom. So, you are now a man of wisdom,” Lalong said.
Present at the event were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Presidential flagbearrer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; APC Vice Presidential Candidate, Kashim Shettima; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom; Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong; former Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson; the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Filipazzi, among others.