The strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may not end soon as the union vowed to resist any attempt by the Federal Government to cripple public universities for private universities to thrive.
Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter of the union, Dr Olusegun Ajiboye, who made the declaration yesterday while participating on a radio programme in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, described the strike as a nationalistic struggle against the Federal Government’s plan to deny children of the poor university education.
He said the union had declared “Operation Save Public Education Campaign (SPEC)” aimed at mobilising global support against the government’s anti-people policies.
Ajiboye said: “The strategic plan of the powerful in Nigeria is to cripple public education so that their privately-owned universities can thrive.
“What we are defending in this strike is operation safe public education. Let me tell you the truth, Nigeriansshould be very careful. Some people who have the resources and are well to do, they can afford to send their children to private schools and abroad for university education. Majority of Nigerians cannot do that.
These people are intentionally trying to destroy public education so that your own children and my own children will not have access to university education. And if that happens, only their children will be educated.
“This strike is aimed at sensitising Nigerians on the danger that is looming. Some people are trying to destroy what is common patrimony.
The intention is to destroy public universities so that private universities could thrive. I tell Nigerians to note that the public primary education and secondary education have been destroyed and people no longer have trust in public primary and secondary schools despite the presence of quality teachers at these schools. Now they are targeting public universities because majority of them own private universities.
“What we are saying is that their intention is to destroy public universities so that their own universities can sell and thrive.
“The intention of every investor is to make gains at the expense of a strong competitor and we are telling Nigerians to stand up and defend what generally belong to all of us.
“People should therefore not see this strike as just a strike, but should rise up to save public education. The call by ASUU is a nationalistic call and people should join forces with ASUU to save public universities.We are concerned with how well we can end the strike and not how quickly.
How well is when government has been able to inject substantial fund into the universities. Libraries are dry, laboratories are empty.”
Ajiboye said the character of a good leader should be seen in his ability to fulfill promises, adding that the strike would have been avoided if the government had kept to her side of the bargain.
He said: “Government was pleading with ASUU to go back. The government does not need to apologise to Nigerians on everything. The President apologised on the Lagos-Ibadan Road last month. He has apologised for bad health care system. He should stop apologising, but put things write. Our strike has passed the level of appeal.
Our agreement is sacrosanct and we want our universities to rank at par with others around the globe. They know what is good for their children education. Let them do it for our children’s education too.”
He said the strike would not be called until the government injected substantial funds into the university education to make it worth being called university.
Ajiboye said: “The government promised to inject N100 billion early last year and would increase it to N300 billion before the end of 2012 for the funding of state and federal universities. If that is done consistently for three years, government would have injected N1.2 trillion into education in Nigeria. Our conviction is that if such amount is injectedby the end of 2014, university in Nigeria will have been totally revitalised. But the government has not put a kobo on the table.”
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