by Segun Odeleye
The president’s men are all rising in defence of first lady Patience Jonathan who has come under criticism for different issues in recent days.
First, Gov. Amaechi accused her of being behind the posting of Mbu Joseph to Rivers as commissioner of police. The Rivers PDP attacked the governor for that assertion. Now, the minister of education, Nyesom Wike has attacked all those criticising the first lady over the honorary doctorate degree conferred on her by a university in South Korea.
Critics including the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) argue that considering how Nigerian university undergraduates have been at home for three months, it was improper for Patience Jonathan to accept an award from a foreign university.
But Wike feels that such criticisms are “not only out of place, but bereft of common sense”.
Wike on Sunday maintained that there was nothing wrong with the action of the First Lady as long as it was the university that decided to extend such gesture to her.
He stressed that the award was in recognition of the First Lady’s humanitarian services and in particular, her efforts in fighting cyber crimes.
He said: “One will not necessarily bother himself because most of these critics do not understand how governance operate. The mere fact that ASUU is not on campus, does not mean all activities of government would be grounded. It does not also mean that other staff of the universities are not working. They are working; the only thing is that academic activities are not taking place.”
Wike continued: “So, if other institutions all over the world want to honour the first lady for her contribution to mankind, I do not see anything wrong with that.”
“That ASUU is on strike does not mean all universities are on strike. University of Illorin is a public university but they are not on strike. There are also other private universities in this country. So, to me such criticism is completely out of place; it does not make any sense,” he stated.
He also appealed to the ASUU members to shift ground on their demands, just like the way government had done, in order to end the four months strike.
He noted that the demands the staff are demanding from government had been there for over 20 years.
Stressing that it was impossible for the government to fully fund the tertiary institutions, he advocated for financial autonomy for the universities.
“We agree; ASUU is making some demands that would have improved on what we have in the universities. But, government is saying that in as much as we agree with you, these problems that had been there for over 20 years cannot be solved within two to three years. It is not possible and they should appreciate what government has done.
“Mind you, the fund that government is releasing has nothing to do with the TETFUND fund. So, if you put all together, you will find out that government is now spending at least N200billion to N300 billion every year, apart from the normal federal budget.” He stated