By Biodun Busari
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said that the parents of the Nigerian students should beg the federal government to fulfil the promises it had with the Union so as to put an end to the ongoing six-month long strike.
ASUU said that the federal government is the employer of the universities’ lecturers and so it has no business with the parents.
This was disclosed by ASUU National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke in an interview with Vanguard on Saturday.
Osodeke said this to react to a statement by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, when he said that parents should beg ASUU to call off the strike.
Six-month strike without headway
The lecturers of public universities have embarked on strike since February 14 and it entered its sixth month on August 14 as the demands are yet to be met by the government.
A number of meetings and committees were inaugurated to resolve the crisis but all to no avail.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave a two-week ultimatum to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu to resolve the crisis but it has elapsed with no solution.
The President, on Friday, inaugurated another committee headed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, to review Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS), the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) over irregularities.
The Union, however, has stated that the adoption of a transparent payment platform University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) is critical to resolving the current strike action.
Parents are not our employers
When asked if the parents have made official pleas to the Union and if anything has been done recently, Osodeke said, “You should ask the government that. We have done what we should do as a Union. That question should be directed at the government. We have done one and they have not responded, we are not going to force them to respond. We have no relationship with the parents of Nigerian students. The parents are not our employers. So we have no relationship with them. They should beg the government instead.
“We are asking the federal government to fund its education appropriately. We’re simply asking the federal government to fund the education appropriately in line with the agreement, to fund the universities adequately in proportion to the budget of what other countries in the world are doing.”
N2.3 trillion accumulated funds
ASUU president said that the accumulation of funds the government should pump into its tertiary education is worth N2.3 trillion since 2013, and added that it has not spent up to N50 billion till date.
“And two, to respect the agreement it made with ASUU that it will put N2.3 trillion over six years into Nigerian universities as far back as 2013. So by now we’ve moved on and up till now they’ve not even given up to N50 billion since they’ve been in power,” Osodeke said.
Expectations from presidential candidates
According to ASUU, Nigerians should watch and listen closely to the presidential candidates and vote for whoever has the interest of Nigerian education in mind.
“Nigerians should look at the candidate that will be willing to fund education, and that will have the interest of Nigerian students, and the interest of the Nigerian people, that’s the candidate Nigerians should look out for.
“And for us in ASUU, the difference is that we have not seen any of them that is willing to do anything? And even all the promises made by this regime and other regimes, did they implement them? Before they are elected they will say all sorts of things, but do they implement them? What did they tell Nigerians about the system? But all of them when they came to power everything changed,” he added.
Length of strike
When asked if the ongoing strike is the longest in recent time, and what should be done, the don said, “We are not interested in the length. In any way, the government wants to look at it, we are not keeping any record. We just want the government to go ahead and fulfil its promises. We are not interested in how long it is. Whether is the longest or not, what we want Nigerians to do is to tell this government to implement their agreement with ASUU.”