A FORMER minister of sports and youth development in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Solomon Dalung, has faulted the failure of the federal government to heed the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
In a video shared on his social media handle, Dalung urged Nigerians to support the industrial action embarked by the university lecturers to press home their demands.
The former minister stated that although he was a victim of academic crisis as a result of ASUU strike while a student in the university, he would always support the union’s agitations.
He said, “The federal government wants Nigerians to see ASUU as evil, but in real sense ASUU are saints. These are people who love Nigeria and said we are not going to abandon this country to go and look for greener pasture but we will fight to make the universities better.
“I studied law for nine years instead of five. But any time, any day you wake me up, I will stand with ASUU because they have been able to explain their agitations for me and I understood that government is killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs.”
The APC chieftain recalled that ASUU proposed the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) during the military regimes of Ibrahim Babaginda and Sani Abacha to address the funding challenges of public universities in Nigeria.
However, he alleged that since the return of democracy in 1999, the Federal Government and National Assembly had turned the trust fund to their “goldmine” through series of amendments.
“To cut the long story short, from 1999 till date, the National Assembly has bulkanized the decree and removed ASUU and the trustees originally proposed by the union and taken all over the whole thing.
“None of the initial trustees recommended by ASUU is part of the trust fund. They have taken over the initiative provided by ASUU to service education and deny them funding, and you expect ASUU to celebrate that?
“ASUU has a good cause and Nigerians should support ASUU to force the federal government relinquish TETfund to the initial concept drafted and contained in the decree by ASUU.
“Strike in Nigerian tertiary institutions will continue except government honestly do justice to ASUU by reverting TETfund to the original agreement because that agreement provides that every four years you will review the agreement because life is dynamic and the prices of goods will not be stable so the earned allowances will have to be reviewed among others,” he added.
ASUU had on February 14, 2022 embarked on the strike to press home its demands for a better welfare package and revamp the educational sector, among others, a situation that has forced many Nigerian students studying in public universities to idle away their time at home.
Buhari, on July 19, ordered the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, to hand off negotiations with ASUU and directed the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, to take over and resolve the issues behind the protracted strike.
The effort has, however, not succeeded in resolving the strike impasse as the two parties bicker on the salaries of the striking lecturers, which the federal government has withheld since February.