The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has offered to mediate in the ongoing face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, over the implementation of the 2009 agreement.

The Bishops Conference, at the end of its 2013, 2nd plenary meeting in Oturkpo, Benue State, said that the ongoing rift had crippled the education sector in the country.

In a communiqué, signed by the President of CBCN, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, who is also the Bishop of Archdiocese of Jos and Secretary, Most Rev. William Avenga, Bishop of Gboko, and made available to liveschoolnews in Jos at the weekend, the clergymen, expressed regret that university students have been made to roam the streets, following the indefinite strike by ASUU.

They said that they could no longer afford to stay aloof, while the future of the youth was being mortgaged.

The communiqué said: “We are disturbed by the crippling effect of the strike. As stake holders in the education of our youths, we cannot stay aloof. We appeal to the Federal Government and ASUU to take the higher ground of mutual exchange and shifting of grounds for the collective responsibility of saving our university education and getting our youths back to the classrooms.

“We, the Catholic Bishops willingly offer ourselves as a conference to mediate in order to bring this deadlock to an end and usher in a harmonious, viable and sustainable environment for university learning.”

The bishops also expressed regret at the denial of Catholics to acquire land to establish chaplaincy by some university authorities, adding that the action has contributed to the weakening of sound moral education in the lives of the youths, who are the future leaders.

The communiqué called on the government to foster religious freedom by allocating lands and removing all barriers to acquiring lands for religious worships.

The bishops called for higher observance in the right and respect to lives and condemned attempts to introduce unwholesome values to the Nigerian society by foreign agencies in their campaign for abortion, supply of condoms and promotion of same sex union.

While reiterating the need for good governance, the conference noted that the quality of life in Nigeria does not reflect the level of the country’s immense human and natural resources, stressing that cost of living have skyrocketed over the years and appeal to Nigerian leaders to cultivate the spirit of accountability.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has called on Nigerians to prevail on ASUU to end its threemonth- old strike.

NANS noted that it could no longer continue to tolerate the protracted strike, which had made students irrelevant and idle.

Addressing a news conference in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the NANS National President, Comrade Yinka Gbadebo, urged lecturers to call off the strike in the interest of building intellectual capacity for national development.

Gbadebo, who was with the association’s National Financial Secretary, Comrade Timileyin Ayenuro, an indigene of Ondo State, said it had become imperative for the students to call on ASUU to reconsider its present stand on the continued closure of the universities.

He said: “We must all, as Nigerians, accept that the problem with our universities has developed over decades and would therefore be unimaginable that ASUU with its present stand wants it totally resolved within a spate of four years that this agreement was signed

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