Ola Ajayi – Ibadan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has faulted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on his alleged comments that university lecturers are sitting at home playing game instead of carrying out research that would bring solution to COVID-19 pandemic.
Describing the comments as uncharitable, ASUU, in a statement signed by the Ibadan Zonal Coordinator, Professor Ade Adejumo, stated that in a clime of responsible governance and leadership, the government will be making moves to meet the demands of the union to get the strike suspended.
According to the union, the members of the union have been making giant inventions and playing frontline role in the fight against COVID-19 even when they have to contribute their money to develop ventilators because they have “irresponsible government that has refused to fund and invest in research.”
Adejumo stated that in a saner clime, people like Ngige would have resigned or become ex-Minister as a conciliator general of a government that lacks the will to honor Memorandum of Actions (MoAs) signed with the union.
ASUU alleged that the pandemic had exposed the wickedness of the leadership of Nigeria who votes 8percent of its 2020 budget to education as against 26percent prescribed by UNICEF.
On the accusation against ASUU by the Accountant General of the Federation, ASUU declared that the accountant general should be bold enough to account for the corruption surrounding the IPPIS as exposed by the union.
It maintained that AGF is boasting on trampling of the university Autonomy Act by forcefully enrolling its members into the fraudulent platform.
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But the union disclosed that the AGF should invite EFCC to arrest those who supplied fictitious names to the IPPIS stating that members of the union do not prepare salaries nor work in bursary department of institutions.
“We are also constrained to respond to the Minister’s uncharitable claim that Nigerian academics have been sitting down “at home playing Ludo and drafts and other games’ instead of conducting research for the discovery of new drugs and equipment for combating COVID-19 is least expected of someone who wears the garb of conciliator general of Nigeria.”
“Such reckless statement has made him unqualified to stand as third party neutral in labour matters in Nigeria. In saner climes, he would have been advised to resign from his position or be removed.”
“Records are available everywhere to show that most meaningful interventions on combating the coronavirus in Nigeria today are still being led by academics in many states with the support of ASUU, even in the face of the general strike.”
“We do this because we are aware of our responsibilities to society as contained in our principles and laws. Chris Ngige should tell Nigerians how committed is the government to funding research activities in our universities? Is funding not at the centre of ASUU’s agitation over the years?”
“A government that allocates less than 8% of its national budget to education instead of the universally agreed 26% benchmark for developing nation has lost the moral fibre to challenge its academics of not conducting research.”
“A nation that develops hunger as a weapon against its academics should be looking for atonement of the sins of its moral deficit rather than embarking on face-saving blackmail that further offends man and God.”
“Ngige should atone for this reprehensible sin by impressing it on this government to act right by earnestly paying attention to ASUU’s demands.
“To set the record straight, Ngige must be living on another planet if he has not seen or read about ASUU’s interventions in the war agaist coronavirus at its various branches. Is this a case of calloing the dog a bad name to hang it or outright mischief?”
“The AGF should tell the nation why he has turned deaf ears to all the well documented sharp practices and brazen corruption associated with IPPIS that he is stoutly defending.”
“The latest vituperations of the AGF against ASUU are akin to the desperation of a drowning man who clutches at anything to stay afloat.
“Now that his gross incompetence has been exposed to the whole world over the tragic collapse of his pet project (IPPIS), he thinks the best option for him is to start throwing blind punches at ASUU whom he considers responsible for his woes”.
“If the AGF is honourable, he has only two options open to him. The first honourable option for him is to eat the humble pie, own up to the short-comings of IPPIS, apologise to the Nigerian workers to whom his tragic short-sightedness has caused unmitigated hardship and wind down the platform.
“The other option for him is to honourably throw in the towel for the monumental embarrassment that he has become to the government and the nation.”