In a meeting held on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari, where he directed the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and other minister to resolve the prolong strike embarked upon by the four university-based unions and report back to him in two weeks’ time.
The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, has slammed the two weeks ultimatum issued to ministers by the President, to end the strike, stating that ASUU had concluded negotiations with the government and was only waiting for the minister to sign the agreement reached with the university lecturers.
Osodeke, made this statement while featuring on Today Today, current affairs programme on Channels television. He said that the lecturers were ready to return to the classrooms if only the federal government would stick to their end of the bargain.
Addressing the ultimatum Buhari gave , he said;
“As a union, we also look at history – look at past precedents, until the issues are resolved, I don’t believe we…this will not even make any difference because this is not the first ultimatum given on this strike. Remember, when the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council met with the President on the 1st of February, they also set up a three-man committee to quickly resolve this issue within one month; and that was the Chief of Staff (to the President), the Minister of Labour (Employment and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige) and the Minister of Education (Adamu Adamu). That committee didn’t invite us for a meeting until we rolled over the strike in May, that was when they invited us for a meeting. The NLC issued an ultimatum and that committee called a meeting.”
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Osodeke also made reference to the earlier negotiation ASUU made with the government and how they gave them six weeks but it fell to the ground.
“That was 22nd of May, we are (now) in July. We agreed on six weeks. That has expired, nothing happened. Now, (it is) another two weeks. Where we are, if we are serious, if we really want to resolve these problems, it should not take two days,” he stated.
He reacted to the Buhari’s “enough is enough” declaration on ASUU strike when governors in the ruling All Progressives Congress paid Sallah homage to the President in his Daura country home, Osodeke alleged that Buhari was being misled by those briefing him on the issue.
“When people go to misinform the President, you (will) get what he is saying. When the Minister of Labour goes to misinform the President, you will see what he is saying,” he said.
The ASUU President recalled the government kept on setting up committees after committees, with their recommendations becoming inconclusive.
He went on the list other instances where the government side failed to report back or invite the union to scheduled meetings in the ongoing talks.
Osodeke pointed out that public servants and others in the ruling elite must be restricted to public schools for education to develop in the country.
“It is the priority that you place on education. When you check the world today…go to Ghana; Ghanaians were here before and we said ‘Ghana must go,’ but now they are telling us ‘Nigerians must go.’ Why? Because they funded their education. In Ghana, they give 16 to 20 per cent of their budget to education on a yearly basis. In South Africa, it is the same thing. That is why today, Nigerians pay not less than N200bn to Ghanaian universities as school fees,” he said.
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