Nigeria: Striking Lecturers Lament Govt. Silence

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Nigeria’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said the federal government is yet to begin any dialogue with the union over the ongoing strike.

The national president of the union, Biodun Ogunyemi, said this in a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES Sunday evening.

The union embarked on the strike one week ago over the poor funding of Nigerian universities and an alleged plan by the federal government to increase student’s fees and introduce an education bank. The union also accuses the federal government of not implementing a 2017 agreement.

Mr Ogunyemi on Sunday said the union has placed a memorandum before the government on how universities can be funded, but nothing has been done on it.

“For the minister, we have a memorandum placed before them, but nobody is talking about the items there except to say that they cannot meet the union’s demand because of the oil prices.

“We have submitted the report of a joint committee to the minister on how to generate funds to address the outstanding balance of N1.3 trillion. It is like the minister is not addressing issues raised and the recommendation in the report,” Mr Ogunyemi said.

“They know how to reach us. That’s not how we’ve been communicating,” Mr Ogunyemi said of an appeal by the education minister last week that the strike be suspended to allow for negotiations.

“The chairman of the negotiating committee came yesterday, Wale Babalakin, begging ASUU to come back to negotiating table. He has not addressed the issue we raised and he has been dancing around the issues.

“There are two issues that we’ve raised. But by his own attitude and actions, it was obvious to that he didn’t want that. That was why we said we have seen enough.

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“Our members remain resolute and report we are getting from branches indicate that our members are determined. Government cannot continue to handle education with levity which is the focus for the development of any country. We cannot continue to pretend that we have education when our universities are in terrible condition,” he said.

Mr Ogunyemi said the strike has so far been successful across campuses but for few vice chancellors.

“We have report of one or two crisis where the vice chancellors are trying to give us problems. Like Adekunle Ajasin University, the VC threatened to sack our members and we tried to tell him to go ask from history,” he said.

However, earlier last week, the education minister, Adamu Adamu, urged the union to exercise restraint in its demands.

The minister said the demands of the union dated back to 2009 during the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, when Nigeria had not yet entered into a recession.

Mr Adamu noted that the government would improve the funding of education when oil price rises and the economy improves. Premium Times

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