The Federal Government has blamed the low prices of crude oil in the international market as the reason it has not been able to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This was stated in Abuja by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, while appealing to members of ASUU to exercise restraint in their demands.
According to the minister, who addressed a press conference, ASUU’s problems with the government began during the Umaru Yar’Adua administration in 2009, adding that the Federal Government would have fulfilled its obligations to ASUU if international oil prices had not crashed after 2009.
Adamu also explained that the Yar’Adua administration made promises to the union when the economy was buoyant, with a provision to fund the universities to the tune of N1.3 trillion over a period of six years in the 2009 agreement.
The minister said: “The issues necessitating this strike date back to 2009 when the then government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua signed an agreement with ASUU on the funding of federal universities. The agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3tn over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that government would meet the terms of agreement.
“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years, thereby throwing the country into an economic hardship. At the inception of this administration, the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose-diving into a recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education.
“We exited recession not too long ago, and we are just beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily beginning to pick up. If this trend continues, definitely, the education sector will also improve.
“Against this background, I want to appeal to all parents, students and in particular ASUU women and men to continue to exercise restraint in terms of their response to the plight of the education sector. We must also be mindful that there are other sectors with similar competing needs.”
It would be recalled that the union called out its members to embark on an indefinite strike starting from Monday, 5th of November. The strike action has paralyzed activities across some universities in the country.
According to the union, government failed to implement three areas in their Memorandum of Action signed on September 14, 2017.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the President of the ASUU, said the areas of contention included failure to carry out the Forensic Audit of the earned academic allowances of the lecturers since 2017 and the payment of only N20bn out of an agreed N220bn annually.
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