The Federal Government has reacted to a recent threat by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that it may resume its suspended strike over non-payment of salaries and alleged victimisation of members.
KanyiDaily recalls that ASUU had asked Nigerians to blame the government if it embark on a fresh strike barely four months after calling off a 10-month industrial action.
ASUU lamented that many lecturers are still being owed salaries of between two and 10 months after the union had called off its 10-month strike following an agreement with the federal government.
But in an interview with Punch on Saturday, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba faulted the fresh notice by ASUU to shut down universities again.
Nwajiuba said any person conceiving a strike after close to one year of downing tools would be doing a disservice to students “because government is a continuum.”
He said it had been difficult for the government to run the lives of over 200 million people with less than $70m a day in earnings.
“Whoever is conceiving a strike after being on a strike for close to one year is damaging the studentship because government is a continuum. Even if we are not in power today, another government, as the case may be, will be there.
“Whoever is in power will continue to engage with any union. But that shouldn’t stop the country from functioning because the rest of the country are the ones you put at risk.
“I have never supported strikes. However, I believe people should press for their demands as responsibly as possible. It is the responsibility of the government to continue to engage them.”
When asked if ASUU should still be patient with the government, Nwajiuba said it depended on the style of the demands.
“It depends on the style of the demands; some of them are what the government can do now, some can be what the government can do later,” he said.
“I’m sure you’re aware of the revenue base of the country – 1.5 million barrels are sold. It is difficult to run the lives of over 200 million people with less than $70m a day in earnings. It is amazing that the President has managed to keep the country afloat.”
KanyiDaily recalls that tertiary institutions took a break from academic activities due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and welfare-related face-off with the Federal Government which had kept them out of classes for 10 months.