The All Progressives Congress, APC, says the N87 billion being demanded by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU represents earned allowances and therefore cannot be renegotiated.
According to a statement issued in on Tuesday by its interim national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said that ASUU was not making any fresh demand beyond the agreement it reached with the government in 2009.
“Agreements are meant to be honoured, and breaching them comes with some consequences. The 87 billion naira that ASUU is demanding represents earned allowances hence cannot be renegotiated,” the APC said.
“In any case, this amount pales into insignificance when placed side by side with the 1 trillion nairathat has been spent on federal legislators in the past 8 years; or the frivolity involved in a government minister travelling to China to negotiate a $1 billion loan in a chartered jet (with its attendant costs) and with a retinue of staffers who earned generous estacode in hard currency,” the party added.
It said the attitude of government towards the on-going strike which has crippled academic activities in public universities since July 1, is an indication of the kind of importance that it attaches to education.
Citing comments made by the minister of state for education, NyesonWike, the APC expressed shock and disgust at the nonchalant attitude demonstrated by those who should be working round the clock to resolve the crisis.
“We are not surprised, because most government officials have sent their children and wards to foreign universities, hence do not give a damn if the children of others are in school or not,” theAPC said.
The party said while the federal government has refused to meet its own side of an agreement it reached with ASUU since 2009, it could pay out N3 trillion in fraudulent fuel subsidies to “fat cats”, spend N10 billion annually to maintain the jets in the presidential fleet and do little or nothing to prevent the stealing of 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which translates to $120 million in a month, money that surely ends up in some people’s pockets.
According to the party, “if the Federal Government would reduce its profligacy and cut waste, there will be enough money to pay teachers in public universities, as well as fund research and upgrade infrastructure in such institutions.”
“Hungry teachers can neither teach well nor carry out research. And poorly-taught students can neither excel nor propel their nation to great heights,” the party added.
It noted that education is the key to national development and that talking about national growth and development without adequately funding education is a “pipe dream”.