FG, ASUU continue talks to end strike

By The Citizen

The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will meet today on the ongoing strike embarked upon by university lecturers over the non- implementation of the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement.

This came against the backdrop of Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu's denial of a newspaper report that the Federal Government agreement with ASUU could not work.

The minister said he never made such a statement and that he only appealed to the union to return to the classrooms while negotiations continued.

Last week, the two opposing sides had met with the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Education to find a solution to the crisis, so students could go back to school, but the meeting ended in deadlock and the two groups were told to go back and review their positions to come back on a latter date.

But the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa'I, while fielding questions from newsmen, yesterday, disclosed that the Federal Government had no other option than to meet with the union to resolve the crisis, so students can return to school.

Prof. Rufa'I said:   'Government has no option but to make efforts to resolve ASUU crisis. Mr. President is concerned, everybody is concerned, definitely, efforts will have to be made to have students back in classrooms.

'So we are pleading with our colleagues in ASUU to call off the strike but we are meeting with them, we are meeting tomorrow (today).

President of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge, has said Nigeria's economy had been taken over by Chinese as leaders in Nigeria have refused to provide quality education to the people, while the Chinese government trained its people in all sectors with the necessary facilities.

Dr. Fagge in an interview with Vanguard said Nigeria's economy will continue to dwindle except leaders of the country provided universities with adequate facilities to give qualitative education to the youths.

He said: 'The thing about it is that, if other countries are investing about 28-30 per cent of their annual budget in education, typically Ghana, even this year, Ghana has committed 28 per cent of its total budget to education, if they can do it, why not Nigeria.

'Is it because we are under the dictates of IMF and World Bank, don't we want to do what is right, must our children continue to go to Ghanaian university for education, must our people be leaving our country, be brain-drained to other countries to go and develop their economies, must we continue this way'?

'Even now, what is happening is that the Chinese have taken over our economy simply because they have trained their people, they have educated their people and their people can compete any where in the World that is why our President is going to China to go and sign MoU (Memorandum of Understanding).

'Why cant we do the same, why cant we train our people and give them quality education so that we will also be exporting them to go and carry out assignments in other countries and then bring foreign exchange for our country and then we will not need to be importing people to come and do some sundry projects in our country.

'Most of the key contracts now are being forwarded to Chinese companies; all our companies are down simply because we have not paid high premium to our education sector that is what we are saying. Are we happy with what we are producing as graduates? We are not that is what we are crying out for.

'Let people understand that it is the pride of an intellectual to produce a well rounded intellectual who is even better than himself, but that is not what we are having. We are having people because we don't have the facilities to give them state of-the-art training and we are crying out and people are telling us all sorts of things.'

ASUU president, who expressed optimism that the agreement the union entered into with the federal government would be implemented, also decried the moving in droves of Nigerian students to Ghana, since he country paid more attention to the education sector.

'This thing that they are saying agreement cannot be implemented, we have heard it before. Prof. Ben Nwabueze was always in the media when he was the Minister of Education saying that it was an agreement of imperfect obligation,' he said.