Olaleye Aluko, Abuja
The Federal Government has appealed to the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities to exercise restraint in their demands from the government.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said at a press conference in Abuja on Monday night ASUU’s problems with the government began during the Umaru Yar’Adua administration in 2009.
The minister said the Federal Government would have fulfilled its obligations to ASUU if international oil prices had not crashed after 2009.
Adamu said previous administrations made promises to the union when the economy was buoyant.
He said the Federal Government provided an agreement in 2009 for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3tn over a period of six years.
Adamu said, “The issues necessitating this strike date back to 2009 when the then government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua signed an agreement with ASUU on the funding of federal universities. The agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3tn over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that government would meet the terms of agreement.
“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years, thereby throwing the country into an economic hardship. At the inception of this administration, the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose-diving into a recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education.
“We exited recession not too long ago, and we are just beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily beginning to pick up. If this trend continues, definitely, the education sector will also improve.
“Against this background, I want to appeal to all parents, students and in particular ASUU women and men to continue to exercise restraint in terms of their response to the plight of the education sector. We must also be mindful that there are other sectors with similar competing needs.”
Lecturers in some of the universities downed tools on Monday, a situation which paralysed activities in the institutions.
ASUU said the government failed to implement at least three areas in their Memorandum of Action signed on September 14, 2017.
President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, told our correspondent that the grey areas included failure to carry out the Forensic Audit of the earned academic allowances of the lecturers since 2017 and the payment of only N20bn out of an agreed N220bn annually.