The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU) to call off its 24 hours old strike just as the social media has been abuzz with suggestions that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, is an avid supporter of ASUU strikes.
But the accusation is a fall-out from comments he made as a newspaper columnist four years ago.
In his comment, he had written on November 15, 2013 in the Daily Trust: “So, instead of hectoring ASUU to call off its strike, the nation should be praying for more of its kind in other sectors of the economy. Since the government has shown itself incapable of doing the right thing until it is forced, the nation should be thinking of organising the association of Nigerian farmers to go on strike to force the government to do for agriculture what ASUU has been struggling to make it do for education.
“Certainly, something drastic and dramatic is needed to force the government to stop the mindless destruction and degradation of our environment, to persuade it to change its neglect of agriculture and steer the nation towards agricultural self-sufficiency as ASUU has tried to steer it in the direction of educational excellence.”
However, Ngige, in a statement from his office Tuesday said, “The Federal Government has set up the Babalakin Committee on 13th Feb. 2017, which is already addressing the issues raised by ASUU.
“Though the Federal Government did not wish to apportion blame, it is important to note that ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action.
“As it did not give the Federal Government, the mandatory 15 days’ notice as contained in the Section 41 of Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, 2004.
“In fact, it was on 14th August 2017 that the Office of the Minister received a letter dated 13th August 2017 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it commenced the strike.”
The letter, he added, was to announce the strike.
The minister spoke as various other meeting were being held in Abuja, and a source boasted the action by the university lecturers would not exceed a week.
One of such meeting was between Minister Adamu and head of the Federal Government Renegotiation Team, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).
The lawyer told journalists that the strike will not last long.
Also Tuesday, the Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC), Prof Michael Faborode, noted that government knows how bad things were in public universities.
He added in a statement: “Yet government after government play around with the future and destiny of the country, while more and more government officials and the rich send their children to oversees …(the) institutions (here are left) to decay, while we scamper overseas draining the already dwindling resources to sustain other economies.
“There should have been no strike with forthright engagement with the education sector, but we have been playing to the gallery, while serious apprehension persists about the state of our education from primary to tertiary level.
“The way forward is a visible programme. It is very obvious that the nation is handling education with levity and disturbing insincerity and we have to face the reality. Pretending or hoping that we can continue to patch-patch without serious soul-searching and redefinition of purpose Will be wishful thinking.