By Dayo Johnson
AKUREâ€”THE Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU weekend accused the Federal Government of propaganda and plotting to destroy the nationâ€™s public varsities at the expense of private ones.
The Chairman of ASUU, Ilorin Zone, Prof. Eddy Olanipekun, stated this at a press conference held at the Federal University of Technology, Akure after a meeting of members of the union from the zone.
Olanipekun pointed out that â€œthe FGâ€™s refusal to sign the agreements reached by both ASUU negotiating team and Mr. Gamaliel Onosode-led FG negotiating team was enough to show that the current administration lacked commitment to revamp the nationâ€™s weak university system.
According to him, â€œit has become fashionable for public office holders in Nigeria to establish private universities, adding that this is the reason they want to destroy the public ones so that their private ones can enjoy patronage.
ASUU however said it â€œwould resist the attempt with everything it had as its members were not ready to fold their arms and watch university education priced out of the reach of the children of the poor.
â€œIf the current government is sincere about its much publicized Vision 20-20-20, the education sector must be placed on a strong footing, otherwise, the vision will end up being a mirage, or mere political propaganda and nothing more.â€
Olanipekun said the nation would not develop unless government invests heavily in education sector, adding that the developed economies did not get to their current positions by accident.
The union pointed out thatâ€ it was disheartening that the best rated university in Nigeria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was ranked well above 4,000 in the world while the same was ranked 85th in Africa.
Olanipekun called on the â€œelite to prevail on the FG to sign the agreement reached by its negotiating team as the lecturers would not return to classrooms until that was done.
According to him, â€œthe union did not embark on a strike because of salary increase for lecturers but to ensure a conducive environment for teaching and learning in the nationâ€™s public universities.
The union said its members would not suspend the strike even if the pay package of the least paid lecturer was increased to one million naira except the FG sign the agreement which include better funding for the varsities.