Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi, a former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has accused the ruling class of systematically destroying Nigeria’s education sector.
While speaking on Tuesday morning on Channels Television, the university don said ASUU strike was a mission to rescue the country’s education from total destruction.
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ASUU had on Monday extended its ongoing strike for another 12 weeks.
A statement signed by ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said this was to give the government enough time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.
Some of ASUU’s demands include the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the UTAS payment platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.
But Ogunyemi said, “The main issue is that we want to rescue Nigeria’s education because what the ruling class is doing is to systematically destroy the education sector.
“They have destroyed the public primary, public secondary and what the ruling class are attacking now is the public universities and public tertiary education in general.
“I think Nigerians should see this perspective that ASUU is bringing to the table.”
He recalled that the negotiation started in 2017 on the core key issues of funding, condition of service, university autonomy, academic freedom and other matters that relate to having qualitative university education in Nigeria.
The former union leader lamented that the negotiation had been on for over four years and it was never-ending, adding that a report being claimed to have been submitted by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, was “empty”.
“When you talk about collective bargaining, it is not about consulting individuals in the ministry, it is about the government putting together a team, briefing the team, giving the team a clear mandate to arrive at a proposal that government will review. And if government have any objection to any part of the proposal, the government will express it.
“We will also take that same proposal to our members and if our members approve it, then we will bring it back to the negotiating table and sign. That is what we have been doing since 1992, that is the spirit of collective bargaining.
“But this is the longest negotiation we have had in our history. They kept us talking, they want to dribble the Nigerian scholars until they leave office and our members have seen through them and that is why they are insisting that unless we have certain deliverables, we have a signed agreement and implementation commences, they are not going to back down on this strike action,” Ogunyemi stressed.