Abuja - The Senate President, Sen. David Mark has
said that representatives of the Federal Government who signed the 2009
agreement between it and the Academic Staff Union of Universities
(ASSU), were incompetent.
Mark stated this while ruling on a motion at Wednesday's plenary of
the Senate brought by the Senate Leader, Sen.Victor Ndoma-Egba and
co-sponsored by all the Senators.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that ASUU embarked on a
nationwide strike since July 1 to protest the failure of the Federal
Government to implement the 2009 agreement for proper funding of
The senators appealed to ASUU to call off its lingering strike and
return to work to prevent further devaluation of the country's education
Mark observed that the basis upon which the agreement was reached did
not reflect fairness and sincerity of purpose on the part of both
According to him, the Federal Government ought to have acknowledged
from the beginning that the agreement is not implementable because so
many demands are embedded which are not realistic.
"The issue of research and development in our educational
institutions cannot be over emphasised, our national development must be
hinged purely on education not on oil, not even on the amount of money
that we get."Listening to the agreement that was signed by the Federal
Government, I was really wondering whether this was signed or it was
just a proposal, but it was signed.
"It only shows the level of people the executive sent to go and
negotiate on their behalf because abinitio, people must be told the
truth, what can be accomplished and what cannot be accomplished,’’ Mark
The Senate President said "but even if you decided immediately after
that you cannot accomplish it, I think it is only proper for you to go
back and start renegotiating."
"But if you prolong it on the basis that you are still going to
honour it and you don't honour it, then it doesn't portray us in good
light.This is where the Federal Government ought to call those who were party to this agreement."
Mark said ASUU simply took advantage of the ignorance of those who
were sent and "just allowed this agreement to go on because it is
obvious that this is going to be a very difficult piece of paper to
implement.They found out that those who were sent there simply didn't know their right from their left and they just went ahead."
The Senate President appealed to the parties involved in the dispute
to show understanding and make necessary compromise to resolve the
crisis to guarantee future of the nation.
He advised ASUU to shift grounds as soon as possible, adding that
failure to do so might make the union to lose the sympathy of Nigerians
who had always supported their cause.
"I want to beg ASUU on behalf of the Senate that they resume and
come back to work, they have made a strong case and their position is
"We can now see the consequences of their action and I think if they
extend it beyond this, then they will begin to lose public sympathy.There is no winner and no loser in this exercise. As long as the
strike continues, nobody will win and everybody will lose," he said.
According to him, it is not a matter of PDP, APC or any other
political party, we are all Nigerians and if we don't build a solid
foundation in our education system, we are going to lose at the end of
In his contribution, Deputy Senate President,Sen. Ike Ekweremadu,called for the granting of autonomy to all universities to enable the
institutions generate and manage their resources.
Ekweremadu advised that government should make loans and grants
available to enable students pay the fees that would be charged by these
"There is the need for full autonomy of our universities while they
are properly regulated to deliver services that meet global best
practices as obtainable in other parts of the world. Then the government will provide loans and grants to enable
students acquire quality education while the universities will be
autonomous and charge appropriate fees," Ekewremadu said.
Sen. Ita Enang (PDP- Akwa Ibom), said that the government should
have understood ASUU’s demands as an economic matter and not labour
issue before venturing into the pact.
"Economic consideration must be given to these demands because the
Federal Government cannot raise this money from the blues, but it has to
be appropriated by the National Assembly," he said.
Also contributing, Sen. Olushola Adeyeye (APC-Osun),urged leaders at
all levels to wake up to the responsibility of charting a progressive
course for the education sector without any further delay.
Adeyeye suggested the introduction of education tax to be paid by all
working persons in the country,adding that effective mechanism should
be put in place to protect such funds from being looted.
Sen.Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe) advised that the Senate President
should lead the mediation process to broker peace between the two
Sen.George Sekibo (PDP–Rivers) said the National Assembly should
take steps to make every tier of government to fund its tertiary
In his contribution, Senate Deputy Leader, Sen.Abdul Ningi (PDP-Bauchi) said "for two decades, education is not viewed as a priority in
Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Education,Sen.Uche Chukwumerije,said some of the demands of ASUU included; salary
structure for academic staff and earned academic allowances.
Chukwumerije listed some of the earned allowances as injury/sick
allowance,call duty allowance,excess work load allowance,sabbatical
allowance and post graduate study grant.
The others are vehicle refurbishment loans, external assessment of
theses, teaching practise allowance as well as funding of universities
with the total demands amounting to N1.5 trillion for implementation
within three years.
The senators also mandated the Senate President to engage the
Presidency and the leadership of ASUU with a view to bringing the crisis
to an end.