Strike: TUC urges FG to borrow to end crisis, fund education

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The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called on the Federal Government to end the seven-month-old strike by borrowing if need be to meet the demand of the embattled members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Its president, Festus Osifo, at a media parley with the Labour Writers Association of Nigeria in Lagos, noted that government should use part of the money earmarked for infrastructure to fund education.

According to him, the Federal Government is proposing borrowing N10 to N11 trillion to finance the nation’s budget midterm, stating that government should take out of it to fund the demands of ASUU.

“We have been borrowing money to solve our infrastructure problem, no money that we borrow that can be compared to human capital development.

“If we don’t fix our education, it means we are joking. Human resources is key. Today, lots of Nigerians are going out in droves, that is brain drain. Our government must sit down with ASUU to resolve the crisis, if it entails borrowing, let them do it…

“It is not our advocacy, the government had already made a plan. Government should take part of the money to solve the problem of ASUU.

“If the money to be borrowed is to complete the second Niger bridge or railway line, the question is who wants to use them? Those sectors are not more important than education.

“We must get our priority right and government needs to put on its thinking cap. In a civilised society, government is made up of serious-minded people. The common man on the street is more creative than the people elected to public office,” he said.

He maintained that the easiest way for Nigeria to move out of its present economic logjam is to fund education, warning that failure to do that would be devastating.

He lamented that the ASUU strike has kept students home long enough to end a session in the university with no solution on sight.

Osifo, who is also the president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), lamented the brain drain in the country, saying government that failed to fix education is a joker.

“We don’t know when the strike will be called off, all we are hearing is blame game. The president gets the obligation to resolve this issue.”

He urged government to get their priority right by funding education.

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Meanwhile, ahead of Federal Government’s planned meeting with governing councils and vice chancellors of federal universities today, ASUU, yesterday, debunked claim by the Federal Government that it had met 85 per cent of its demands.

The meeting was summoned to proffer solutions to the strike, which started on February 14. 

In a chat with Daily Sun, yesterday, Lagos Zone ASUU Coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya, challenged the Federal Government to show Nigerians or list the 85 per cent demands of ASUU it had implemented and warned it campaign of calumny would not resolve the face-off.

On conditions of service, UTAS, promotion arrears, stop proliferation of universities, revitalisation for public universities and outstanding earned academic allowance, Odukoya said Federal Government has not met any of the demands.

Odukoya said government promised to include the demands in the 2023 budget and details have not even been documented. He disclosed that one year after government promised to make available white paper on the visitation panels to federal universities, it has not been done.

The coordinator said no state university pulled out of the ongoing industrial action, adding that Lagos State University had issues and was not part of the union, Osun State University, suspended for pulling out of last strike and Kwara State University, an observer status, which was withdrawn because they were not serious. Odukoya added that Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni and Delta State University, Abraka were under sanction and thus not part of the ongoing strike.

Asked about Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai, Gombe State University and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, which governors directed their reopening, Odukoya said they  were on strike and members have not resumed work as directed.

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