Former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has apologized to Nigerian students over the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), stressing his children are also affected by the situation.
Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba Speaks On ASUU Strike
KanyiDaily recalls that ASUU had embarked on a warning strike since February 14, over the failure of the federal government to meet its demands.
Amid the strike, the government and the union have held a series of meetings, but no agreement has been reached by both sides on ending the strike.
Speaking on Channel Television’s Sunday Politics, Nwajiuba tendered an apology for the ASUU Strike, noting that all his children attended public universities, and two of them are also affected by the industrial action.
The former minister, who admitted that he shared responsibility for the situation, insisted that strikes are not the best approach for ASUU to address its grievances.
He said: “I do apologise to Nigerian students because as their minister, I will take responsibility. But also, on behalf of the federal government, I would say ‘please understand what the issues are’.
“All my four children have passed through Nigerian universities. I still have two who are at home now, because they are all in public universities.”
Nwajiuba said he is also a product of public universities, hence, he empathizes with ASUU.
He said: “My position has not been that ASUU is talking rubbish. ASUU has a case, they are not making a case for themselves alone. ASUU is making a case for the entire university system.
“The only point of departure is that we have asked ASUU that strikes can’t cure the problem.
“We need them in class, we need our children back in school. It hurts parents. It hurts us. Like I keep saying, my children are here, I don’t have children in private universities. My wife and them are battling it at home.”
As part of moves to end the incessant industrial action by university lecturers in public schools, Nwajiuba said the Federal Government is working out a funding structure for the varsities.
He said, “I have proposed, and the Minister of Education (Adamu Adamu) will continue discussing this with Mr President, a new scheme in which universities have a different way of earning money to be able to care for themselves.
“Because you see, there are only 50 of these federal universities and there are 200 others. However, these 50 alone are more than 75 percent of the number of students in the entire university structure – about 2.2m of them.
“So, it is important we give them a funding structure; we need to bring a funding structure to the table because this coming hand-in-cap to the Federal Government at all times cannot be continued and is not sustainable.”
According to Nwajiuba, university lecturers should find other means to press home their demands instead of going on strikes.
“In the last 20 years, we have had nearly 16 strikes. So, my position has not been that ‘Please, ASUU is talking rubbish’,” Nwajiuba said. “No, this is not true. ASUU is making a case for the entire university system.
But he said, “the only point of departure is that we have asked ASUU that strikes cannot cure the problem”.
Nwajiuba also appealed to ASUU to “consider leaving the option of strike and work with the government”, adding that the issues cannot be solved “at once”.
“This government has done more than any other government to meet ASUU. We are going to resolve the issue. All the matrixes for it to be resolved are already before Mr President,” he added.
KanyiDaily recalls that President Buhari had recently pleaded with the ASUU to consider the plight of students and call off the ongoing strike, adding that students should exercise patience as the federal government is working on resolving the strike.