by Ayobami Olopade
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is not letting the cat out of the bag yet as regards the decision its members arrived at during last weekend’s National Executive Committee meeting which held at the Bayero University, Kano.
Many had expected the leadership of the union to immediately take a public definitive position after the NEC meeting on whether it was going to call off the strike which has kept students at home for over four months but the suspense continues as no comment has been made by the union since the meeting; opting instead to wait till it meets with President Goodluck Jonathan.
A chieftain of the Union, Dr. Theophilus Lagi, Chairman, Nasarawa state University chapter of ASUU, declared that only the National President, Dr. Nasir Faggae could speak on the issue. Dr. Faggae has, however, refused to answer calls nor respond to inquiries on the issue.
President Jonathan had met with the leadership of the union, making new offers to them and promising to inject N220bn into the Universities yearly for the next five years; an offer which ASUU preferred to table before its members before it could respond to it. Reports have it that the reason the union was silent on its resolutions was due to a promise it made to the President to get the feedback from its members back to him before going public with it.
A top official disclosed “A promise was made to the President to have him informed before ASUU goes public. That promise will be kept tomorrow when the President comes back.”
In a related development, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, made a passionate appeal to the Union to call off the strike in the interest of the students. While speaking with journalists after receiving an honorary Doctorate Degree in Accounting conferred on her by the Oduduwa University, Ipetumodu. The event which had the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, former minister of Water Resources, Mr. Bashir Awotorebo and other dignitaries in attendance also witnessed the conferment of an honorary Doctorate Degree in Economics on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi.
The Minister stated, “I am appealing to ASUU to call off the strike in the interest of the students. The government, on its part, is committed to tackling the rot in the education sector. The Federal Government has acceded to most of the demands made by ASUU. Federal Government has set aside N220 bn yearly for the development of tertiary institutions in the country. This is part of measures by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration to develop the education sector.”
She concluded by entreating well-meaning Nigerians to contribute to developing the education sector by making investments in education which would have a massive impact on the economy.