Richard Ginika Izuora
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, is getting worried over the refusal of the Academic Staff Union Universities (ASUU), to return to classrooms.
Nwajiuba, said the six months Strike is crippling academic studies and Nigerian students now preferred to study abroad.
Nwajuiba in a statement Wednesday October 7, said the bulk of education budget was being spent on 10,500 Professors in Nigeria’s public universities.
He further revealed that no sector in the country was getting funding as ASUU and that the union’s penchant for strike was driving public school students abroad and to private universities.
Following their disagreement with the Federal Government over non-implementation of 2009 agreements and opposition to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, which government insisted all workers must adopt, the lecturers on March 23 began an indefinite strike.
The Government mandated all educational institutions to resume on Monday next week as the spread of COVID-19, which necessitated the shutting down of the schools had reduced.
However, the ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, explained that no member of the union would resume because they could not work on an empty stomach.Nwajuiba in his statement said Government would not be blamed for the current state of the universities, saying the institutions were run by ASUU members.
According to him, the bulk of the money that is being budgeted for education is paid to the 10,500 professors, out of the 71,000 lecturers in Nigeria.
He said, “Actually, there have been a lot of people asking me as minister what I think is the real intention of ASUU. If you look at it critically, what ASUU is achieving by this (strike) is driving students to private universities and out of the country.
“There is nothing that is now an issue. Even if you say universities are not well run, it is ASUU members that run them. If you say there is no enough money given to education, there is no enough money given to anything in Nigeria.
“The bulk of the money that is in education is paid to these professors. There are 71,000 lecturers in Nigeria alone, with 10,500 of them as professors. There are some countries that don’t have up to 2000 (professors).”
“So, it is not enough to simply say we should bring more money; from where? The 2020 budget, underperformed as low as 62 per cent. We didn’t even collect revenue, there were no companies functioning to pay taxes.”
Nwajiuba said ASUU should cooperate with government and other Nigerians to fix the economy.
He stated, “Not that Nigeria is inventing anything. Everybody is waiting for these 1.5 million barrels of crude oil. They sell them and they become the source of revenue for everybody; the source of dollars and the source of buying new cars.
“A country like Saudi Arabia with less than 25 million people will sell 12 million barrels of oil. Nigeria will sell 10 per cent of that with three times the population. So, it’s a management issue. People should agree to cut their coat according to their cloth. What we are trying to do in the education sector is to manage it.”
Ogunyemi responded to the claims by the minister that the bulk of education budget was being used to pay professors.
He asked, “Is he saying that lecturers should not be paid. If he thinks education is expensive, he should try ignorance.
“I don’t know what that means. You think because you are paying lecturers, that’s where your bulk of money is going. How much are they paying those in the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) and the NNPC(Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation)? I don’t think it is something we should argue about.
“The truth is that everywhere you have seen innovation; invention; and development, they invested in education and still investing in education. If any government official thinks that because they are investing in education, they should make life difficult for university lecturers; then they are preparing the ground for the collapse of the country.”