BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
PRESIDENT of Campaign for Democracy, a human rights group, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, has advised the Federal Government to comply with the agreement reached between her and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, so that the union would call off the strike, saying that giving piecemeal money would not help to improve the education sector.
Okei-Odumakin who stated this in an interview with Vanguard Learning, said that the onus to rescue the nation’s universities laid on the government if she had the interest of the Nigerian people, development of education and the students at heart.
She said; “As a matter of consistency, there is no need changing the goal post in the middle of the game because an agreement was reached and its implementation is paramount. Therefore, giving another alternative or making some money available in lieu of an agreement that has been reached is like being insensitive.
“Education remains the heartbeat of the survival of any nation but our children have been at home and teachers out of work. So, as much as possible, one will want to reiterate the fact that the onus lies on government because if government has education and the interest of the people at heart, government must and should as a matter of urgency, implement the agreement that was reached rather than this piecemeal money that is being given which is cosmetics.
“If this money is not made available, tomorrow, there is going to be another strike, so it is just like the barber’s chair, it keeps going around in a circle, motion without movement, so we need movement, government must act now.”
The human rights activist said it was sad that government had allowed the strike to linger and pleaded with government to make the necessary sacrifice so as to rescue education.
“We are really sad that these children are out of school but I think the solution has to be hit hard on the head so that it will be once and for all. The decision to go on strike can be very painful but if there is no logical conclusion, it will continue rearing its head.
“When I was in the university, I knew how many years I was going to stay to graduate and I did graduate. People are in the universities now, they don’t know when they are going to graduate; that is the problem. We are suffering, students are suffering, parents are crying, government and ASUU must sit together and resolve it and I think government should try all within its reach to resolve it,” she stated.
Commenting on the statistics that the country’s universities are among the lowly rated in the world, she said; “It is very sad that no Nigerian universities is in the top 1000 universities. I think that better funding, equipping of our laboratories, improving infrastructure and remuneration of teachers will go a long way in ensuring that excellence prevails.”