ASUU Issue More Complicated Than Nigerians Think, Says FG. There is more to the four-month old industrial action embarked upon by public universities’ lecturers and supporting staff, the federal government has said.
According to the government, the issue concerning the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other three university- based unions was not as simple as people think.
This is just as government has approved the establishment of e-learning centers for primary schools across the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this yesterday, during an interview with journalists at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the State House, Abuja.
ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14, over unresolved issues with the federal government and since then, all the public universities have been shut down.
Besides, other university-based unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) as well as the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) also withdrew their services over the alleged government insensitivity to their demands.
On why government approved the establishment of e-learning centers but was unable to resolve problems with unions in the public universities for the students to go back to school, the Minister said the issue with the unions was not as simple as the public think.
According to him, government was worried over the long closure of the public universities and was making frantic efforts to ensure that all the contentious issues are resolved.
Mohammed, who briefed on behalf of the Minister of Education said: “I wish that the ASUU issue is as simple as many of us think it is. I don’t think it’s that simple. But I want to assure you that a lot is going on behind the scenes.
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“And I think probably the Minister of Education will be better positioned to give the details. But like any government, if we’re not concerned, we would not set up all the committees which have been working on. If we are not concerned we will not be looking for means to even assuage the feelings of the Union.
“We’re worried we’re concerned, and we’ll continue to work towards finding an early resolution of the problem.”
“And then the other question has to do with the with ASUU strike. I think if I remember this e-learning, I think has to do more with primary schools and not universities.
“And I don’t think because we’re having challenges with the university lectures, we should stop primary school students in continuing with their education”.
On the approval by FEC, Information Minister said, “The Minister of Education has sought approval from Council for the award of contracts for the provision of a satellite- based education system for 109 e-learning centers across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The contract was for the sum of N964 million and is in favour of Messrs Nas Navigation. The purpose of the memo is to provide each senatorial district in the country with e-learning provision, each states has three senatorial districts and the FCT has one senatorial district
“The scope of the project is the provision of satellite based education system for about 4,360 users in the 109 senatorial districts and it was through the installation of 109 receiver satellite unit model antenna in three schools in each state.
“Installation and provision of 109 vast mile server in three schools in each state connecting up to 100 device installation of 109 server units for receiver terminals and deployment of 4,360 Android tablets.”
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, the Victims of Persecution, has written the federal government, accusing it of mortgaging the future of Nigerian youths by not doing enough to find lasting solution to the perennial ASUU strike.
The group in its letter written to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) also indicted nine other institutions and persons responsible for education in the country.
This is just as it sounded the warning that, “soon there could be more guns than books and more kidnapping bushes than libraries.”
Victims of Persecution in the letter titled, “ASUU Strikes: Our Responsibility to Our Youths And The Nigerian Destiny”, lamented that the industrial action which began in February has kept university students at home for four months running without any meaningful resolution in sight.
Those fingered in the dilemma of Nigerian youths it listed included the Minister of education, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Executive Secretary National University Commission, Chairman Senate Committee on Education (tertiary institutions), Chairman House Committee on Education (tertiary institutions) ,National President Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities.
Others were the National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Chairman, Association of Vice Chancellors of States owned Universities and the President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). The letter signed by the rapporteur of Victims of Persecution and former Attorney-General for Justice, Imo State , Chukwuma- Machukwu Ume, regretted that while the future of the youth was being mortgaged, the government and all those concerned were looking undisturbed.
“The governments are unconcerned about the current state of the youth education and related motley affairs in the country”, it stated.
While the group acknowledged what it described as myriads of problems bedeviling the country, it stressed that “this lingering perennial ASUU strike is killing the future of our country”.
The group reminded the SGF that he is one of the few persons that providence has positioned to contribute to the destiny of Nigeria and that of the youth, adding that, “this can only be achieved through conscious departure from our culture of lip service to functional education in our tertiary education.”
It regretted, that despite the clear provisions of Article 11(3) of African Charter on the Right and Welfare of the Child, that the country ascribed to, no effective step seem to have been taken to address the perennial ASUU strikes since 1988 .
The Victims of Persecution observed that even the nation’s annual education budget has continue to drop over the years without any sign of improvement.
The issue concerning the ongoing strike embarked upon by ASUU and other three university- based unions was not as simple as people think.