Lagos, Nigeria – Nigeria’s main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) Tuesday urged the country’s federal government to honour its agreement with the umbrella association of university teachers, the failure of which triggered the ongoing strike that has paralysed academic work in the nation’s public universities.
In a statement made available to PANA here, APC said the government must immediately provide the 87 billion naira which the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is demanding in order to pay outstanding allowances and end the strike (US$1=155 Naira)
”The 87 billion naira that ASUU is demanding represents earned allowances hence cannot be renegotiated. In any case, this amount pales into insignificance when placed side by side with the 1 trillion naira that has been spent on federal legislators in the past 8 years; or the frivolity involved in a government minister travelling to China to negotiate a $1 billion loan in a chartered jet (with its attendant costs) and with a retinue of staffers who earned generous estacode in hard currency.
”It is an indication of the kind of priority that this Federal Government attaches to education that while it has refused to meet its own side of an agreement it reached with ASUU since 2009, it could pay out 3 trillion naira in non-existent fuel subsidies to fat cats, spend 10 billion naira annually to maintain the jets in the presidential fleet and do little or nothing to prevent the stealing of 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which translates to $120 million in a month, money that surely ends up in some people’s pockets!
”What we are saying is that if the Federal Government would reduce its profligacy and cut waste, there will be enough money to pay teachers in public universities, as well as fund research and upgrade infrastructure in such institutions. Hungry teachers can neither teach well nor carry out research. And poorly-taught students can neither excel nor propel their nation to great heights,” the party said.
Incessant strikes by teachers and other staffers at the nation’s tertiary institutions have disrupted their academic calendar and elongated the time of study for students.
Analysts said poor funding of the country’s public universities have forced those who could afford it to send their children to the very expensive private universities in the country or to foreign universities.
They point to the fact that no Nigerian university was listed in the top 100 ranking of universities worldwide as an indication of the sad fate that has befallen the public institutions of higher learning.
PANA reports that the latest attempt to end the ongoing strike failed when a meeting between representatives of ASUU and the government in the capital city of Abuja on Monday ended in a deadlock.