Monday, October 21, 2013
The truth about Govt's position on ASUU strike - Finance Ministry
the ongoing ASUU strike. It's been four long months (Quite shameful I
must add) with no apparentresolution to the conflict in sight...and
some people are blaming the Minister of finance Dr Okonjo Iweala for
what's going on.
Some people in ASUU have been distributing flyers with abusive
messages against Dr Okonjo-Iweala andnow the ministry is issuing a
statement about it, saying the minister is not the problem. I'd rather
read about when ASUU is calling off this strike to be honest. Find the
press statement below
Contrary to some recent media reports, the Federal government has not
adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach in its negotiations with ASUU.
Rather, the approach is focused on positive engagement and achieving
sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in the
country. That is why President Goodluck Jonathan recently appealed to
ASUU to respond to government's positive steps by calling off its
strike in the interest of suffering students and parents.
Despite this, for several days now, some elements in ASUU have been
distributing pamphlets and flyers with abusive and inflammatory
messages against the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and
Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in mosques and other
places. This is taking academic unionism to a new low and infusing it
with unnecessary politics. I am sure majority of ASUU members are not
in support of this.
These messages are directed at using falsehood to demonize the
Minister as callous and unsympathetic to the plight of students and
parents. The major lie being peddled in the pamphlets and flyers is
that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has insisted on a "take-it-or-leave-it approach"
in the negotiations with ASUU. Nothing could be further from the
Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the daughter of two retired professors and her
father is presently a member of ASUU's Board of Trustees and has been
one for a long time. She speaks with her father everyday on the issue
so how can be insensitive to issues concerning the sad state of
tertiary education in the country? She understands and sympathizes
with the plight of both students and lecturers. She wants our children
back in school as soon as possible. Remember she is a mother and two
of her young relatives are sitting at home due to the strike.
This is why government is working hard, under the leadership of the
President, to seek practical and sustainable solutions to the
challenges facing higher education in Nigeria. The President has made
available N100 billion a year in the first instance to repair hostels,
laboratories and classrooms and other facilities. An offer has also
been made to ASUU of N30 billion towards their earned allowances. In
fact, negotiations have even gone further than this. This is the first
time, in years of negotiating with government, that significant sums
of money have been put on the table for ASUU and universities on this
particular set of issues. The Coordinating Minister is fully part of
Against this background, ASUU elements who want the strike to continue
should have a heart and rethink their current take-it-or-leave-it
approach to negotiation. Government has demonstrated its commitment to
improving the university system. And it is even ready to do much more
going forward. ASUU should listen to the voice of reason and the
yearnings of Nigerians on this issue.
Paul C Nwabuikwu
Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister and Minister of Finance