A former chairman and secretary of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Akwa Ibom State, Comrade Akamba Awa has said that the ongoing strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is justifiable.
Awa who stated this during an interview with Pioneer Education, said the only language that government knows is strike and urged that the union should pursue its demands once and for all if tertiary education must be spared from the hands of those who have vowed to give leap service to the course of educating the people to contribute to national development.
He explained that after the Federal Government signed an agreement with ASUU in 2019, none of those issues agreed, had been implemented by government and up till 2022, the union face-off with government, has remained a recurrent decimal.
Comrade Awa, pointed out that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, was not asking government for their members salaries and unpaid allowances, rather that tertiary education should be properly funded in terms of infrastructure, facilities and research.
He noted that up till date, government funding of education was less than seven per cent in the annual budget and stressed that government’s refusal to fund tertiary education in the country, was a deliberate policy not to educate the people or keep them half baked so that they would not know their rights and engage government well on issues of national interest and development.
“In Nigeria, we have a situation where they say don’t educate them and that is why we have the Almajeri system in the North, where children instead of attending school, resort to begging and serve as instrument of crises,” he stated.
The former TUC chairman, told Pioneer Education, that before the commencement of the strike, the union gave the Federal Government enough signals and ultimatums, but government refused to respond and a day to strike, government decided and set up a technical committee to negociate with ASUU.
Comrade Awa said that the minister of education, had walked on the National Assembly members on the same issue without a corresponding sanctions on him, saying that in a system where things are done well and authority is respected, the minister would have resigned from office for lack of capacity to perform and accountability.
He maintained that, it was not the first time government would set up committee to address ASUU matters, adding that several committees had been constituted and came up with reports that have never been implemented.
“For government to wake up just yesterday and say that they have set up a technical committee to look into the union’s agitations, shows the level of ineptitude and complacency the Federal Government is. Why should government find delight in setting up negotiation committee year in, year out. What about previous reports that have not been implemented,” Awa stated.
The former TUC chairman said the decay in tertiary institutions in Nigeria required a state of emergency to be declared in education and money borrowed to fund it. Awa went on to say that if the Federal Government could borrow money from China to fund railway and other frivolous projects, such should be done to address the rots in the education sector, knowing fullywell that the future of this country lies on educating the people to support national development.