• Says Minister misleading Buhari
  • Ministry churning out fake figures

The faceoff between the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government took a different dimension yesterday as the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke took a swipe on the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen Chris Nwabueze Ngige , accusing him of misinforming President Muhammadu Buhari on the union’s strike.

The Union had embarked on a five months strike to press demand for the implementation of the 2009 agreement it entered with the Federal Government.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 11, appealed to the union to reconsider its ongoing strike adding that the action is taking a toll on parents and students.

Speaking on a national television programme yesterday monitored by AljazirahNigeria reporter , Osodeke said if the President Buhari had been properly briefed he would not have made such a statement, insisting that the Minister has been feeding him with tissues of lies on the ongoing strike.

The ASUU president said the union is not aware of the figure being circulated by the Federal Government as the amount needed to resolve the strike.

“If the president had been properly briefed by the committee through the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, I don’t think he would have said enough is enough, go to your class while we are negotiating”, he said.

Prof Osedeke said, “It is the Minister of Labour and his group that would have gone to the president to tell him that we chase out his people, we refuse salary.

“We are not aware of where their so-called figure arrives from. In all our agreement and discussion, we didn’t talk about 1.2 trillion or 2.4 trillion, or whatever. We didn’t.

“We didn’t calculate the quantum of what we would need. We calculated what each member of our union will earn.

“If this man who is telling you this figure can tell a lie that ASUU chased out his members from the negotiation table, why would he not tell a lie about the figure.

“The ministry is churning out fake figures. We negotiated with the ministry of education, so wherever they got the documents is their business”.

AljazirahNigeria reports that President Buhari, on Monday, lampooned the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, for being adamant and not calling off the lingering strike, saying enough is enough of keeping students at home.

President Buhari, who said he had hoped ASUU will sympathise with the people, advised the university lecturers not to hurt the next generation.

The President stated this when he received some governors of the All Progressives Congress ,APC, legislators and political leaders at his residence in Daura, Katsina State.

He called on ASUU to reconsider its position on the prolonged strike, expressing worry that the industrial action will have generational consequences on families, the educational system and future development of the country.

The President noted that the strike had already taken a toll on the psychology of parents, students and other stakeholders, throwing up many moral issues that are already begging for attention.

He noted that the future of the country rests on the quality of educational institutions and education, while assuring that the government understands their position, and negotiations should continue, with students in lecture halls.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying, “We hope that ASUU will sympathise with the people on the prolonged strike.

“Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake”.

The President called on all well-meaning Nigerians, particularly those close to the leaders and members of the association, to intervene in persuading the lecturers to reconsider their position, and the ripple effect on an entire generation and the nation.

He said students from Nigerian universities will be faced with the challenge of competing with others in a highly connected and technology-driven work space, and that keeping them at home only deprives them of time, skill and opportunities to be relevant on the global stage.

According to him, “Colonial type education was geared towards producing workers in government. Those jobs are no longer there.

“Our young people should get education to prepare them for self-employment. Now education is for the sake of education.

“Through technology we are much more efficient. We should encourage our children to get education, not only to look for government jobs”.

President Buhari said resources should be channeled more into building infrastructure and operations of the health and educational sector, not to expand the bureaucracy to create job opportunities.

“By this time next year, I will have made the most out of the two terms, and the remaining months I will do my best”, the President noted.

However, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, reacted to President Buhari’s comments that “enough is enough” of the ongoing strike by the university lecturers.

“Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake”, Mr Buhari had said when he received some governors of the All Progressives Congress, legislators, and other political leaders at his residence in Daura, Katsina State, on Monday.

ASUU said enough can’t be enough “until the president moves to reposition the decaying public university education in the country”.

The union accused Mr Buhari of not acting presidentially by addressing the issues that led to the strike.

The response was contained in a statement by the Lagos zone of the union and signed by its coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya.

The statement read in part: “For the records Mr President, enough will not be enough in the struggle to reposition the public university education in Nigeria under this present administration and beyond as long as the Nigerian public universities are reduced to glorified secondary schools for the production of poor quality and globally uncompetitive, rejected and unemployable graduates; Nigerian academics remain one of the poorest paid scholars not only in Africa but the world; our universities are unattractive to students and scholars from across the globe; universities in the countries are made constituency projects and mushroomed for political exigencies; Nigerian universities, no thanks to IPPIS are run as government parastatals; Nigerian universities are seen as profit- centres where government and its functionaries can obtain money to fund its excessive gastronomical greed”.

The union blamed the Federal Government for the elongation of the strike which has lasted almost five months.

It said, left for ASUU, the strike shouldn’t have lasted over a week as all negotiations have been completed and are only waiting for signing and implementation.

“For ASUU, this strike action should not have lasted beyond the first week after it was declared because the issues at stake were neither new nor do they require rocket science to resolve given that there had been MoUs and MoAs as well as a duly renegotiated ASUU-FGN Agreement completed way back 13th May 2020 before your ,President Buhari’s government which you and your administration neglected and refused to implement and sign”, it said.

ASUU described the president’s comments as propaganda to set the people against the union.

ASUU said the fact that other unions in other tertiary institutions are also on strike for similar reasons “proved the complicity of the government in the neglect facing public tertiary institutions”.

It accused the government of attempts to “comprehensively destroy public university education” in the country.

ASUU had embarked on strike since February 14, demanding the adoption of UTAS as a payment platform for its members and the implementation of the renegotiated 2009 agreement.

The union said it was forced to embark on the strike by the lukewarm attitude of Mr Buhari-led administration.

“The various issues confronting our nation, including the ongoing strike in the nation’s public universities will not be solved by presidential lamentations but by executive actions induced by rare patriotism and nationalism”, ASUU said.

“Therefore Mr. President, saying that enough is enough is mere wishful thinking and will not resolve the present decadence in our universities nor stop the present struggle to reposition our public universities”.

AljazirahNigeria had reported the Ministry of Labour as saying all negotiations will be presented to Mr Buhari for consideration on Wednesday, July 3, 2022.

It is, however, unclear if it was presented to him or why he was silent on the development when he spoke on Monday.

But the union noted that it will continue to fight against the proliferation of universities, which it said the government has turned into “constituency projects for political contingencies”.

It said Nigerian public universities have been turned into a “glorified secondary school” where low-quality graduates are churned out.

It added that the current state of the institutions has made foreign scholars and students desert the universities.

The union also claimed that Nigerian academics are among the poorest all over the world.

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