By VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA—MEMBERS of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZIK, branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday, in Awka took to the streets on a peaceful protest to prevail on the Federal Government to implement the agreement it reached with the union in 2009 on the proper funding of the country’s public universities.
The lecturers gathered at the popular Aroma junction in the Anambra State capital as early as 8. 00am, displaying placards with some inscriptions as ‘Kill education, kill development’; ‘Fund education, fund development’; ‘ASUU for quality education’; ‘FG: agreement is agreement’; and ‘Nigeria needs quality education’.
UNIZIK ASUU chairman, Professor Ike Odumegwu, who addressed the lecturers among others, accused politicians and some wealthy Nigerians of deliberately trying to kill education in the country so that their private universities could make education beyond the reach of the poor people.
He said: “The implementation of the agreement borders on morality. We are neither negotiating, nor renegotiating with the Federal Government, but only asking government to implement the agreement it signed with ASUU in 2009.
“In that agreement, government agreed with ASUU on the needs assessment of the universities and agreed to release money for its implementation only for it to turn round now to say that ASUU strike is politically motivated. Government has said ‘no work, no pay’ and ASUU is saying ‘no pay, no work’. Our demand is that our universities should be made to compete with others in the world.
“A situation whereby our rich people send their sick ones to India for medical treatment because our teaching hospitals are in shambles due to lack of proper funding is no longer acceptable.
“Our government is budgeting N3.2 trillion for the building of centenary village, but it cannot release N400 billion to upgrade facilities in the nation’s public universities. If this strike fails, it will result to a number of negative consequences for Nigerian education, including the fact that an average Nigerian student in a federal university will be paying at least N200,000, while over 80 per cent of parents can no longer afford to send their children to the university.”