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APC lashes minister over university staff sack

02 December 2013, 10:03

Abuj - All Progressives Congress (APC) has slammed the Federal Government for issuing a threat to sack striking university teachers.

The opposition party accused the government of employing “military-era tactics” which reflected its “poverty of ideas” in resolving the prolonged strike.

It lashed out at Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike.

“'Wike's language was crude, his presentation was rude and his threat was demeaning and counter-productive. We believe his lack of finesse and the inability to think out of the box in handling the whole strike issue will not bode well for a quick resolution of the crisis.

We also disagree with the Minister's inference that the lecturers should automatically call off the strike because the President intervened and sat for long hours with them. It is this unnecessary deification of a democratically-elected President that has almost turned this President into an Emperor. What is the big deal in President Jonathan sitting with ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) members, his former colleagues for that matter? What is a President elected to do if not to solve problems,” Interim APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, queried.

Mohammed added that APC considered it unfortunate that Wike could be threatening to sack university teachers at a time there is a shortfall of 60 000 lecturers in Nigerian universities, adding that the threat itself had shown that government did not understand the enormity of the problems facing public universities in particular and the education sector in general.

“'The poor remuneration of university teachers and the inadequate facilities for teaching and learning in our public universities have combined to trigger a brain drain in the institutions. The pauperization and frustration of the teachers through the non-implementation of the pacts aimed at ameliorating the situation have discouraged those who may want to become university teachers. Yet, the few who have defied the odds to take to this noble path of helping to mold our future leaders are being threatened with dismissal.

This betrays a painful lack of understanding of the long and tortuous path it takes to produce a university teacher. It also shows that the so-called Supervising Minister of Education is not better than the misguided market women who, having being hired and paid to protest against ASUU, threatened to invade the universities to chase out the lecturers if they won't call off the strike,” he said.

Mohammed defended ASUU for demanding certain benchmarks, including the non-victimization clause and the need for a senior government official, like the Attorney-General, to sign the agreement, before calling off its strike, in view of the fact that the government had a history of reneging on its agreements.

“Our party is eager for this prolonged strike to end so that our youths who have been marooned at home for five months can resume their academic pursuit. Yes, we believe this strike has gone on for way too long, and that it will impact negatively on our country's development in the long run. But we believe the issues at stake must be resolved once and for all, so that we won't have a repeat of these recurring strikes.

The onus rests on the FG to work with ASUU to resolve this lingering crisis. President Jonathan should get off his high horse, roll up his sleeves as Presidents elsewhere do and tackle squarely what has now become one of the biggest challenges facing his administration. However, if the Jonathan administration has run out of ideas, as we now fear it has, going by the infantile threats being issued by it, then let it hands off the negotiations and allow other stakeholders to find a way out. We are all stakeholders in the education of our youths,” he added.

– CAJ News


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