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ASUU: There’s poverty, hunger, general suffering despite exit from recession

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it is unhappy with the level of poverty, hunger and general suffering in the country.

Biodun Ogunyemi stated while addressing a press conference to announce the suspension of the union’s industrial action.

Ogunyemi said that aside ASUU’s demand for the federal government to address the decadence in the education sector, the union also wants government to improve the welfare of the citizens.

“Having addressed the matter of the strike action, it is crucial that we address even a more fundamental issue; the state of the Nigerian nation,” Ogunyemi stated.

“Whatever happens to the nation ultimately impacts the university system. The current sorry situation of the country, therefore, is a matter of grave concern for ASUU.

“From education to the economy, from the society to national security, and to the livelihood opportunities, the situation is worrisome.

“The government has announced with glee the movement away from recession, but to the ordinary Nigerian citizen the reality is different. Neither poverty nor hunger nor general suffering has reduced in level or intensity in our country.

“The general unrest among the labour unions is a reflection of the deplorable condition under which the Nigerian worker operates, just as the growing incidents of suicide are an indication of the level of frustration and hopelessness of the average Nigerian citizen.

“There are no advances in policies that can substantially provide the welfare needs – employment, health, education, etc – of Nigerians outside the ruling class.”

Ogunyemi lamented the increase in the level of insecurity in Nigeria, saying that instead of addressing the situation adequately, the elites surround themselves with “massive security personnel … leaving the masses unprotected, at the mercy of the violent hoodlums who have overrun the country”.

“The plague of armed robbery, kidnapping, and other forms of criminality are enough threat to the peace of any polity,” he said.

“However, these violent acts are treated as minor problems in Nigeria, even when they are compounded by the rising tide of ethnic and religious conflicts.

“The crux of the problem, in all these, however, is the inconsistent responses of the government, and its use of double standards in addressing the various issues, persons and groups that tug at the fabric of the country.

“ASUU is firmly convinced that the solution to the underdevelopment of our people is re-orienting Nigeria’s economy from neo-liberalism to a peoples-oriented model.

“The starting point is to exit the envelop-style budgeting and accord education its pride of place in the scheme of things.”

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