The Academic Staff Union of Universities has called on the Federal Government to stop comparing the crisis in the nation’s education sector with that of advanced countries.
The organisation suggested that instead of comparison, the government should look up to advanced industrial societies such as the United Kingdom, America and China.
The warning strike by ASUU had snowballed to a full blown strike on March 23 2020.
The President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, after the National Executive Council meeting, directed lecturers to embark on an indefinite strike to protest the failure of the Federal Government to address its unending numerous demands, including rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The union had said the IPPIS was a violation of the concept of university autonomy.
In an interview with The PUNCH, the ASUU president accused the Federal Government of politicising the crisis in the education sector.
Ogunyemi said, “The Federal Government keeps comparing Nigeria with the crisis in developed countries and advanced industrial societies. Those people can draw from their pool of scientists. Britain will not have to come to Nigeria to solve its health challenges.
“It is Nigeria that will look up to them. China will not look up to Nigeria to ask for health workers to assist them. See, all the (Chinese) people they sent to us to address the challenges of COVID-19 are products of a university system.
“To address the challenges in other sectors, you need a functional university education, not these mechanistic approaches to the universities.”
The ASUU president said the crisis in the education sector was caused by the government’s policy of “tokenism.”
He said, “What we have been seeing in the education sector is what I call tokenism and it can’t solve our problem. For instance, we say this problem will require N1.1tn and somebody says let’s give you N20bn as a sign of commitment.
“So, what is N20bn compared to an outstanding balance of N1.1tn? It’s like your child asking for N1m and you’re giving him N10. So, tokenism will not help us in the education sector.”
He also responded to enquiries whether the strike would have any effect since there had been a lockdown in the country over coronavirus and no time for negotiation.
Ogunyemi said, “Well, the wisdom behind what ASUU did then was that matters of education and health should actually be treated as emergency issues. So, if we have emergency in the health sector, I think we should also come back to address the emergency in the education sector.
“We fully identify with government that the emergency in the health sector which is the COVID-19 pandemic affects everybody. So, because of that we have excused our members that they should be free to participate in intervention activities.”