We’re surprised ASUU went on strike – Federal Govt

‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja


Daily Courier – The minister of education, Adamu Adamu, has said that the government was surprised by the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).


The minister expressed the government’s reservation yesterday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the presidential villa, Abuja


According to him, it is not the federal government’s fault if there has been no agreement after several negotiations between both parties.


He said, “ASUU, unfortunately, they have gone on strike and I am looking for them because all the issues are being addressed.


“The last thing that happened was that our committee looked at their demands but renegotiations are going on. They submitted a draft agreement which the ministry is looking at. A committee is looking at it. Immediately it finishes, the government is meant to announce what it had accepted. Then suddenly, I heard them going on strike,” he said.


On allegations by the union of his absence from meetings, Adamu said, “ASUU will never say that. I always call the meetings myself. The meetings I didn’t attend were those that happened when I was in hospital in Germany. We want a peaceful resolution. The federal government is ready to meet them on all issues they have raised and if there are so many meetings and the gap is not closing, then I think it’s not the fault of the government.


“There is a solution to this. The negotiations are the solutions and that is why I have said that I am surprised that ASUU has gone on strike,” he said.


On reaching an agreement with the striking lecturers, the minister declared, “I can’t give you time. I am ready to reach an agreement with ASUU now but since I’m not the only one, I can’t give you time, but certainly, we are going to reach an agreement very soon.”


Commenting on the allegations of disparity in cut-off marks for common entrance examinations across various parts of the country, the minister said the low cut-off marks in the North are meant to comply with the requirements of the Federal Character Commission.


“I have nothing to say on that. I am not aware of any difference unless it is meant to satisfy the requirements of federal character.


I think federal character is required for the nation and it is accepted. There is nothing we can do about that. There would come a time when it would not be necessary,”, he said.


UNIBEN students protest ASUU strike


Meanwhile, scores of students of the University of Benin on Wednesday, barricaded the ever-busy Benin-Ore highway to protest the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).


The students, in their numbers by the entrance of the Ugbowo campus of the university, chanted various slogans and solidarity songs.


The students expressed their frustration over the incessant strike of university teachers, urging the Federal Government to heed ASUU demands.


The protesting students carried placards with various inscriptions, some of them turned the highway into a football field, while the students’ leaders shared bottles of water, soft drink, pies and doughnuts to the demonstrators for refreshment.


The students’ action caused a gridlock on the highway for about four hours, forcing many motorists to avoid the route, while those going into the Edo State capital had to divert their ways.


Consequently, passengers were also stranded as many walked a long distance before getting vehicles to their destinations.


Leading the protest, the President of the Students Union in the institution, Foster Amadin, said they had been frustrated by the perennial strikes by the academic union.


He said, “Since two days now, we have been to our classes and there have not been any lecturers to teach us. So we have nothing to do.


“We asked what was happening and they told us ASUU is on strike again; that they are on a one-month warning strike. So we now felt that we should come to the street to say we are tired.


“We hereby express our grievances to the Federal Government, to the state government and whoever cares to listen. We say we are tired. We want to graduate. For a programme that is supposed to run for four years, we are spending five years and even more. We don’t want it anymore.


“Let the Federal Government see to the demands of ASUU and let ASUU also consider the Federal Government’s position. All we want is to go back to our classes. I want to graduate, I want to leave the school. I am tired and that is our grievance.”