The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has attacked state universities asking their students to resume classes despite the ongoing strike by lecturers, describing such universities as ‘quacks’.
ASUU also appealed to parents to prevail on the Federal Government to increase funding for education rather than paying N10,000 in addition to the tuition fees of their children to support tertiary education in the country, as the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NPTA) recently suggested.
In the same vein, the union again dismissed the threat by the Federal Government to withhold its members’ salaries during the period they were on strike.
Featuring on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ on Thursday, ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke said the union’s strike was in the best interest of the nation’s education system.
Commenting on the state universities calling for the resumption of academic activities, Osodeke said: “Kwara State University is not a member of ASUU. Osun State University was suspended from ASUU for misbehaviour. We are in court with LASU (Lagos State University) because they sacked all our executives more than five years ago. They were not part of this struggle.
“ASUU does not run a university. The government has the right to say, ‘we have reopened.’ Our members have the right to say, ‘that’s good for you. We are not teaching because we are on strike.’
“As it happened in Gombe State University, Yobe State University, and Kaduna State University. I just cited those examples. They are irrelevant (the call for resumption). Is Ibadan on strike? Is UNN on strike? Is ABU on strike? Is BUK on strike? Is Maiduguri on strike? Is Lagos on strike? Let’s talk about proper universities, not those quacks.”
When reminded by one of the anchors that he called the state universities quacks, he affirmed “Yes!”
Reacting to the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria’s suggestion that parents should pay N10,000 to support the universities, Osodeke said the parents should tell the government to perform its functions rather than contemplate making such a payment.
“They should meet the President and tell him, ‘please, honour your agreement, make education your priority in the country. Use Nigerian people’s money, not the President’s money, to fund education as it is done in other countries. If you do that, the country will take education as the number one priority.”
He said the parents should also meet the National Assembly and tell the lawmakers to improve budgets for education.
The labour leader argued that parents were already paying the N10,000 through what the government had failed to do.
“When we were students, we took hostels subsidized. We were paid bursaries for being students, but all those are gone. Parents have taken care of all those responsibilities.”
According to him, all the funding sources for public tertiary education in the country are in Nimi Brigg’s recommendation to the government on the union’s demands.
He explained that if parents pay the N10,000, the government will loot the fund. According to him, the fund is not the solution.
“What we are asking for this revitalization is less than what they have just released for feeding children in school. They released N200 billion for feeding children in school. They released N400 billion for tradermoni. Only one man took N170 billion. That is the issue.”
Osodeke also pointed out that lecturers in advanced countries also go on strike, just like ASUU, stressing that the only difference is that governments in developed nations respond promptly to their employees’ demands.
“When you check the number of times the lecturers in Nigeria have gone on strike, it’s not less than the number of times the lecturers in the UK have gone on strike. When the UK government interceeds, it will not be more than three days.”
He added: “For us, these issues can be resolved in one day if the priority is there… If our leaders have their children in the (Nigerian) universities the way the leaders in the UK have their children in universities in the UK, they will resolve the problems quickly.
“Because their children are not here, they’re nonchalant about it.”
While dismissing the government’s threat of “no work, no pay” for his members, he urged the government to implement its agreement with the union.