The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has described the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba’s assertion that striking lecturers should consider farming as alternative profession as a reflection of his shallow understanding of the academic profession and a reflection of the low premium that the government he is serving placed on education.
Nwajiuba, while speaking on a television program had stated that the lecturers should take up farming, saying they cannot dictate how they should be paid to their employers.
Reacting to his comment, the ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, Professor Ayo Akinwole said the Minister of State has “displayed his naivety on educational matters.”
According to Akinwole, the scarcity of farmers is a reflection of the failure of the government Nwajiuba is part of.
Akinwole asked Nwajiuba to resign his appointment and take to farming as a worthy national service, adding that ASUU is not like the minister who pursue selfish agenda.
He said the union remain resolute in the pursuit of welfare of its members while not downplaying the infrastructure collapse and underfunding of public universities, adding that ASUU will continue to fight “parasites like Nwajiuba”who preside over a ministry where no Nigerian University is in the top 100 in the world.
Akinwole stated that if the President Muhammadu Buhari government is not paying lip service to education , he would not have consistently reduced budgetary allocation and funding to education since assumption of office.
The ASUU boss said lecturers in public universities are owed earned academic allowances from 2013 till date, challenging the minister to declare if he has been owed allowances and how much since he assumed office.
He maintained that available statistics show that salaries of university lecturers’ is below what is paid to academics in Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
“As Scientists, experts in Agriculture faculties continue to conduct research mainly with external funding or personal monies. But Nigerian government who failed to protect farmers and exposed Nigerians to excrutiating poverty is not making use of research findings. If the Minister of State for Education is interested in farming, he should resign his appointment and stop displaying his cluelessness of the problems in the education sector. We are on a just fight to ensure that those in public offices become responsive and responsible to the masses they swore to serve. They must fund public education. We have been on the same salary since 2009. That is no longer sustainable. The universities are being run with personal sweats of lecturers while politicians siphon monies for personal aggradisement. We cannot accept IPPIS that is against the laws of the land and which fails to recognise the uniqueness of academic profession and culture. We have brought an alternative using our members’ money. People like this Minister of State mirrors the disdain of ruling class for the workers and people of the country,” Akinwole added.