By Emmanuel Aziken & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJAâ€”The Minister of Education, Dr Sam Egwu and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were yesterday accused themselves of deception over agreement between both parties and funding of universities.
Egwu nevertheless, said government would give a definite pronouncement on the face-off with ASUU at the end of the week.
While Dr. Egwu insisted that there was no agreement with the university teachers, the ASUU officials tendered what they claimed was a copy of the agreement.
The ASUU executives members also accused the Federal Government of exaggerating the amount required to fund the welfare package of university teachers under the controversial agreement.
Both parties appeared before the Senate committee on Education to broker the face off between the government and the academic union.
Yesterdayâ€™s meeting was presided over by Senator Joy Emodi and had Senators Jibril Aminu, Effiong Bob, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, Osita Izunaso and Omar Hambagda at the session. Speaking before the committee yesterday, Dr. Egwu said:
We are not happy that we are having this strike because it has become a recurring decimal in our education system. And I want to say that the President and the ministry are not happy that the children are not in school.
â€œIt is on record that when the meeting was scheduled for 24th, (of May) they did accept our letter, indicated interest of coming to our meeting, but on the 23rd before that meeting (they) went on indefinite strike. So one starts wondering, what is the bases of going on strike. We are yet to attend a meeting to accept their demand,â€™â€™ he said.
Besides, Dr. Egwu told the committee that the government has gone far in accepting many of the demands of the ASUU including university autonomy, saying that vice-chancellors could now be appointed and fired by the councils.
The ASUU executive led by Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, however, accused the government of deception, saying that there were fifth columnists determined to bury the implementation of the agreement.
While admitting that their demands were not on welfare alone, he said university lecturers deserved better remuneration in order to stop the brain wave from the country.
â€œWe are saying remunerate us so that our graduates will not go to banks, our graduates will not be going to Botswana,â€™â€™ they claimed.