The protracted disagreement between the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has been linked to government’s decision to take issues concerning education for granted.
This is as ASUU has accused the Buhari-led Federal Government of refusing to pay the much needed attention to the education sector.
It recalls that there has been a lingering disagreement between the Federal Government and ASUU over the former’s inability to fulfill the 2009 agreement reached with the union.
The disagreement had led to the commencement of a nationwide strike in March 2020 which lasted for nine months.
In the agreement, ASUU had demanded that its members should be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) pending the approval of the proposed payment system – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
But the union reopened the public universities on December 3, following the Federal Government’s promise to meet their demands.
However, Dr Ajigo Ikutal, ASUU Secretary at the University of Calabar, UNICAL, said the Federal Government has chosen not to have the willpower to meet the union’s demands.
Speaking with Ikutal accused elites in the Federal Government of killing both primary, secondary schools, and now attempting to kill the public university system in Nigeria.
Ikutal assured Nigerians that ASUU dislikes industrial actions, but only opts for it to better the University system.
According to Ikutal: “It’s very simple; government has not placed the desired priorities on education. If it’s on another sub-head, will government be asked before meeting their demands?
“Government has never placed that desired priority on education so they can joke with the sector anyhow and it doesn’t matter to them.
“When you check the budget, what is the percentage set aside for education? It keeps decreasing, and of course, the amount given, do they really implement it?
“The answer to this questions is very simple and if we say we don’t know the answer then we are merely pretending.
“The elites in government do not have their children schooling in the country. They have killed the primary, secondary education and brought up private institutions so that they would thrive. They want to kill the public universities, and we said no because the common man will not go to school if that happens.
“But, it’s okay, we are watching, and we are standing our grounds that public universities must thrive in Nigeria.”
On ASUU going on strike, “I can’t say yes or no, and the reason is that if government wants to solve ASUU’s problem today, it will.
“They do not have the will power; because if the will is there; they would solve ASUU’s problem today, so there will be no need for strike. Do you think we like strike? We don’t like going on strike.”