We do not want our children’s children to attend public universities – ASUU President

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The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi has disclosed the motivation behind the present 7-month-long strike of the university union. 

NewsWireNGR recalls that ASUU had on March 23 begun an indefinite strike over the Federal Government’s insistence on implementing the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, which the government said all its employees must adopt for their salaries to be paid.

The union was insisting that the N30 billion earned Academic Allowances offered by the Federal Government would be for its members alone, a demand the government team said was not feasible.

However, the University union President has cleared the air that the reason for this prolonged strike is a fight to establish and preserve a quality university system in the country. 

This he disclosed on Monday in an interview with Sunrise Daily aired on Channels Television, monitored by NewsWireNGR.  

The President acknowledged that the ongoing strike is affecting the students’ lives as they continue to stay at home, but he explained that the union is doing all they are doing in order to ensure public universities offer quality education. 

He said, ” the young people are also our children. As I address you today, I have two undergraduates in my house and many of our members also have theirs. We feel for our children because we are concerned about their future. What we are doing as a union is to enhance the quality of their certificates, we do not want what happened to us to happen to them. 

“And what do I mean? We went to public primary and public secondary schools, but our children did not go to these public schools. If care is not taken, their own children too will not go to public universities and we must stem the tide otherwise they will ask us in the future that when all these things were happening, what did you do as those who have the opportunity to intervene. The children of the poor cannot afford private universities.”

When asked why the Union has continuously not accepted the offers given by the Federal government, the union President blamed the government for not taking education as priority and said that the government has been giving the same excuses since 2017.

“With due respect to the Honourable Minister of state, exactly what he said in that tape was what they told us in 2017 and 2019. In fact, in the 2019 (February 7) memorandum, the Government said the inauguration of decision panels was just awaiting gazetting. So if more than one year after, the government is still gazetting,  how long will it take the government to gazette? What we want to see is inaugurate a panel so that we will see a panel that is ready. 

“Talking about dollars and sales of oil, I wonder if Nigerians have ever had a government maybe except in the 70s where the government said we have enough money to spend. 

It is what they see as an emergency that they give their attention to. It is about priority. If they see education as priority, we will deploy all our resources to address the emergency. A state of emergency should be declared in the education sector because that is where the future of this country lies.“

What we have been saying is that we need our universities to grow this country, we need our universities to innovate.” 

NewsWireNGR reports that in a statement issued via NAN on Sunday, Ogunyemi also said the strike, over which ASUU had severally dialogued with the government, may still linger on if FG fails to meet its demands.

He said the dialogue had come to a stalemate after FG insisted that the payment of the withheld salaries and other entitlements of its members would only be effected through the IPPIS, a payroll software ASUU had rejected

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