ASUU, NASU, SSANU Are Selfish, Mean – Education Minister

Minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba

The Federal Government has accused the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education, and Associated Institutions of selfishness over the ongoing strike.

Emeka Nwajiuba, the minister of state for education who stated this, added that there was no point in the unions disrupting academic activities and the lives of students because of money that they would eventually be paid.

VANTAGE NEWS reports that the university unions are currently on strike over unfulfilled promises made by the government and other sundry issues such as the refusal of ASUU to use the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Recall that the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education, and Associated Institutions embarked on a warning strike two weeks ago demanding payment of earned allowances and the usurpation of non-academic career positions by vice-chancellors of universities.

VANTAGE NEWS reports that the group had also extended its strike by another two weeks following the inability of the government to meet its demands within the two weeks warning strike.

The minister, in an interview with The Punch, stated that the workers were still receiving their salaries despite their refusal to call off the strikes.

Nwajiuba said it is selfish for the unions to cripple activities in the universities, saying they are not the only ones that have demands. He added that other unions such as the  Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, unlike the university unions were considerate and patient with the government.

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Nwajiuba said, “The issue is not whether they are right or wrong. What we’ve consistently said is government and the people of Nigeria will continue to look into the matter because if you disrupt academic sessions because of one entitlement, you would eventually get the entitlement, but we would have lost the time our children would have used in learning. You are being mean. There is no point in disrupting everybody’s life because you have not got your money.”

“The 2.2 million children we have in tertiary institutions who are in the universities and other tertiary institutions, and the nearly 100,000 lecturers, that work with them are a very important segment of our workforce. But then, they are not the only people in Nigeria. There are unionists in so many different parts. All we manage to sell after banditry attacks is just less than 1,000 barrels of oil in a day. When the money comes in, it is that money we are going to use to pay the police, Man O’ War, and all the civil defence groups and other organisations in Nigeria. It is that same money we are going to use in paying secondary school teachers. To build infrastructure, the government just goes around begging China, begging this, begging that. But to pay salary, we have to sell this little crude oil in order to keep the lives of 200-so million lives running.”

“You can see what the Ministry of Finance is doing. It gave N50bn, N20bn. We don’t have N200bn in the coffers at a go. When the last President (Goodluck Jonathan) signed the agreement, he thought he might have the money. The government can’t be managed like that: The government will not be robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

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