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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said Nigerians who attended public universities about 40 years ago, such as in the generation of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, should weep over the present poor state of the country’s tertiary institutions.
ASUU added that several petitions which it submitted to the Federal Government against corrupt vice-chancellors in some universities had yet to be acted upon, noting that the government should show more commitment to the tertiary education system.
The ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, while reacting to claims by the labour minister that the union refused to show up for negotiations with the government.
Ngige had, during a function in his Alor home in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State on Saturday, berated ASUU, saying the Federal Government lost N800bn to the old system of paying lecturers, which was fraught with double payments and other vices.
But the ASUU President, Ogunyemi, said, “In the first place, is ASUU responsible for the management of the payroll and personnel information in the universities? Secondly, how many of those responsible for the so-called double payments has the government apprehended, tried and jailed to serve as a deterrent to others?
“What did government do in universities where ASUU submitted petitions against vice-chancellors suspected to have involved themselves in corrupt practices? We expect the minister to be charitable in his assessment of the roles of ASUU in revamping university education in Nigeria.
“I don’t know anybody in Senator Ngige’s generation who attended public universities 30 or 40 years ago who will not weep for our universities today. All the charade of blackmail against ASUU is because the Nigerian ruling class has succumbed to some foreign agenda to hands off university education. ASUU has remained the only stumbling block.”