Nigeria: No going back on strike, say UNIJOS teachers
David-West insists on govt’s funding of education
THERE may be no end yet to the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as the University of Jos (UNIJOS) chapter Thursday vowed to continue until the Federal Government implements the 2009 agreement entered by the two parties.
In a related development, former Petroleum Minister, Professor Tam David-West, Thursday insisted that the Federal Government must fund public education, saying that any government, which fails to invest in the sector is not a serious one.
The UNIJOS ASUU Chairman, Dr. David Nansoh Jangka, stated this yesterday while speaking with journalists on the one-month action.
According to Jangka, it has been four years since an agreement was signed with the Federal Government to release N100 billion yearly to fund private and public universities, adding that after 18 months, since the memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed, no kobo has been released.
He said the fund is to improve on the existing infrastructure such as theatres, laboratories, hostels and libraries and not for the lecturers’ extra allowances.
Jangka added: “We are determined to pursue this struggle to the end. In fact, in certain quarters, we would have advised them (the Federal Government) for once to close down the system like it happened in Ghana. Two years, three years when you fix the facilities, we will come back. It is basically on that infrastructure in the university system. You can see for yourselves the University of Jos. Despite the big names they call in the University of Jos, just go round, what do we have?”
David-West added: “Any government that fails to invest in education is a vagabond government. The problem with Nigeria is that we have more thieves than saints in government. We drill over two million barrels of crude oil per day. Why should we be poor? ASUU is saying, put money in education to improve its quality for our children and those yet unborn. The same government that does not have money for education budgeted one billion each to feed the President and Vice President for a year. Are they eating rock in Aso Rock? If you went to school without shoes, ensure that your children have shoes. Good parents pray that their children must be better than them.”
The former minister, who spoke at a Town Hall meeting organised by University of Ibadan (UI) chapter of ASUU, also berated the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over her comments on the 2009 agreement signed with the university teachers.
David-West alleged that Okonjo-Iweala was paid in foreign currency during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, which amounted to about two million naira in a month without her rejecting it or insisting she must be paid in naira to improve our economy.
He also wondered what President Jonathan is doing with 10 presidential jets while President Barrack Obama of the United States has just one.
He said: “It is not having university degree that makes you a good leader. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Jonathan were the first set of Presidents with university degrees but that has not translated to significant changes. Whitson Churchill was not the best in his class but one of the best leaders the world has ever produced.
“I do not see any reason why any lawmaker should earn more than a university professor. They spend less time, may not even have five credits; yet a senator in Nigeria earns more than 10 professors put together. A senator in Nigeria can pay President Obama’s salary four times. I don’t know what is wrong with people when they get to the top”.