By Peter Duru
MAKURDIâ€”The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has declared that the core essence of the ongoing strike action by the union is to stem the tide of brain drain that has hit Nigerian Universities in recent time due mainly to the inability of government to effective address the nagging issues confronting university education in the country.
The Union also accused the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, of misinforming Nigerians on the issues responsible for the current face off.
They regretted that the Nigerian university system has been allowed to rot due mainly to lack of adequate funding, emphasizing that Nigerian lecturers are about the least paid in the continent of Africa which has necessitated the mass exodus of university teachers to other less endowed African countries describing the situation as unacceptable in the present circumstance.
According to ASUU, the demands of the striking lecturers that their take home pay should be in tandem with what they described as the African Average, are all geared towards restraining the exodus of well trained qualified hands from the system.
This assertion was made by the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Benue State University chapter, Mr. Ralph A. Amokaha, while briefing newsmen in Makurdi.
Amokaha said: â€œThe core essence of this strike is to effectively stem the issue of brain drain in the system; the situation we are presently confronted with is the fact that our best brains in the university system are all leaving in droves to countries like Botswana and other European and Arabian countries and that is why we have consistently
canvassed that this can only be curtailed when Nigerian university lecturers are paid in line with the African Average in order to strengthen the university system and effectively check the desertion.â€
The Benue State University ASUU leadership further decried the statements credited to the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, who asserted that the Federal government would require extra N78billion to meet the salary increment demanded by ASUU.
Amokaha, who was flanked by his executives, described the statement as evasive, spurious, and diversionary and also intended to mislead Nigerians on the issues government has with the ASUU.
They wondered why it has taken the Education Ministry seven months to present the negotiated document to President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, after two and a half years of torturous bargains by the union and the government team that culminated in the agreement.