The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments that “enough is enough” of the ongoing strike by the university lecturers.
Mr Buhari had called on the striking lecturers to call off the strike, saying that he hoped the union “will sympathise with the people on the prolonged strike.”
“Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake,” Mr Buhari had said when he received some governors of the All Progressives Congress, legislators, and other political leaders at his residence in Daura, Katsina State, on Monday.
In response, ASUU said enough can’t be enough “until the president moves to reposition the decaying public university education in the country.”
The union accused Mr Buhari of not acting presidentially by addressing the issues that led to the strike.
The response was contained in a statement by the Lagos zone of the union and signed by its coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya.
The statement read in part: “For the records Mr President, enough will not be enough in the struggle to reposition the public university education in Nigeria under this present administration and beyond as long as the Nigerian public universities are reduced to glorified secondary schools for the production of poor quality and globally uncompetitive, rejected and unemployable graduates; Nigerian academics remain one of the poorest paid scholars not only in Africa but the world; our universities are unattractive to students and scholars from across the globe; universities in the countries are made constituency projects and mushroomed for political exigencies; Nigerian universities, no thanks to IPPIS are run as government parastatals; Nigerian universities are seen as profit- centres where government and its functionaries can obtain money to fund its excessive gastronomical greed.”
The union blamed the government for the elongation of the strike which has lasted almost five months.
said, left to ASUU, the strike shouldn’t have lasted over a week as all negotiations have been completed and are only awaiting signing and implementation.
“For ASUU, this strike action should not have lasted beyond the first week after it was declared because the issues at stake were neither new nor do they require rocket science to resolve given that there had been MOUs and MOAs as well as a duly renegotiated ASUU-FGN Agreement completed way back 13th May 2020 before your (President Buhari’s) government which you and your administration neglected and refused to implement and sign,” it said.
ASUU described the president’s comments as propaganda to set the people against the union.
ASUU said the fact that other unions in other tertiary institutions are also on strike for similar reasons “proved the complicity of the government in the neglect facing public tertiary institutions.”
It accused the government of attempts to “comprehensively destroy public university education” in the country.
ASUU had embarked on strike since February 14, demanding the adoption of UTAS as a payment platform for its members and the implementation of the renegotiated 2009 agreement.
The union said it was forced to embark on the strike by the lukewarm attitude of Mr Buhari-led administration.
“The various issues confronting our nation, that of the ongoing strike in the nation’s public universities will not be solved by presidential lamentations but by executive actions induced by rare patriotism and nationalism,” ASUU said
“Therefore Mr. president, saying that enough is enough is mere wishful thinking and will not resolve the present decadence in our universities nor stop the present struggle to reposition our public universities.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the ministry of labour as saying all negotiations will be presented to Mr Buhari for consideration on Wednesday, July 3, 2022.
It is, however, unclear if it was presented to him or why he was silent on the development when he spoke on Monday.
But the union noted that it will continue to fight against the proliferation of universities, which it said the government has turned into “constituency projects for political contingencies”.
It said Nigerian public universities have been turned into a “glorified secondary school” where low-quality graduates are been churned out.
It added that the current state of the institutions has made foreign scholars and students desert the universities.
The union also claimed that Nigerian academics are among the poorest all over the world.