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Government, union must review issues, failings, says ex-minister

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Chinwe Obaji

• Seeks deployment of recovered loot to education sector
• ‘Industrial action total, comprehensive and indefinite’
• NUT wants immediate intervention, honouring of agreements
• NANS ex-chief backs move

Former Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, has called on he Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) and the Federal Government to x-ray the lingering issues and find out where they both failed to do the needful.

She told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the previous administration was largely part of the agreement, adding that it was enough reason why the union ought to have ensured something tangible was done even before the 2015 general elections.

Her words: “I am not saying ASUU is right to embark on strike or not. Recall that the whole issue was protracted in 2013 when there was a six-month strike and eventually, the union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the previous government.

“But, both sides ought not to have waited for this length of time for the whole thing to degenerate again to this level.’’

According to her, Nigerians are hearing of recovered monies looted by some individuals.

“I think the right thing to do is to channel most of the stolen monies that were recovered to the education sector and infrastructure.

“I am indeed not for or against this strike, but my sincere take is for both the government, ASUU and other stakeholders to end all this drama by ensuring that they come together.

“They should look at the entire issues critically and seek the way forward,’’ Obaji added.
However, ASUU’s National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, at a news conference yesterday in Abuja, announced that the strike would be total, comprehensive and indefinite.

He said during the period, all academic activities such as teaching, attendance of any form of meetings or supervision of examinations at all levels would be suspended.

Reacting, the National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Michael Olukoya, told NAN that the issue of a persistent strike in the sector “is further worsening the already bad state of the sector”.

According to him, he expected government to quickly respond, as this was not the best of time for the sector to experience any industrial action.

He said: “I want to call on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and members of the National Assembly to rise to the occasion and tackle the situation once and for all.

“Government must learn how to respect agreements and show a sincere commitment to the course.’’

He also ask government to plough back recovered monies into the sector because “it is the future of tomorrow’s leaders that are involved.’’

But a one-time Southwest Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Eniola Opeyemi, supported the action, but regretted that students were not carried along.

“ASUU has actually been in this struggle for quite some time now, which I feel it is okay for them to do.

“But I feel the union did not do the needful by carrying the students along in its decision,’’ he stated.


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