The Academic Staff Union of Universities has again blamed the Federal Government for the ongoing strike in public universities.
ASUU’s national President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke in an interview with Punch, said the federal government “went to sleep” for eight months after it completed negotiations with the union in May 2021.
“The initial idea was that the government would have met all the demands within the four weeks. But since the government said they could not meet up with our demands in four weeks, we said let us give them eight weeks. We just don’t want to declare an indefinite strike. Let us hope that in eight weeks, they meet up so that schools can return to normal and there will be an improvement in the system.
“All they have done is to make promises like they had done in the past. For our members, if you have made promises in the past that you did not fulfil, why should we believe you again? If the government was serious about these problems, within four weeks the problems would have been solved.
“We say release the white paper, release the revitalisation fund for universities and sign the agreement, these things should not have taken four weeks if they were serious.
“In 2021, ASUU did not go on strike and I’m sure you are aware of that. We completed negotiations in 2021, did we go on strike? Between May 2021 and February 2022, that is eight months, for them to go and look at what we discussed; did we go on strike during this period? No, but the government went to sleep.
“For eight months, the government went to sleep and when ASUU went on strike, they came up.”
Reacting to the federal government’s claim of having no money to meet the demands of the lecturers on strike, Osodeke asked if constructing a railway from Kaduna to Niger Republic is more important than education.
“The government said there is no money but they have money for elections. Between education and election, which one is much more important? They constructed a railway from Kaduna to Niger Republic, is that more important than education?
“They claim there is no money, but the President increased the duty tour allowance and you see them travelling from one country to another. Does that prove that there is no money? Who are the ones benefiting from the DTA? Aren’t they political office holders? But the one that concerns the ordinary Nigerians, they claim they don’t have money. It is not correct; it is just the issue of priority”.