The All Progressives Congress (APC) has slammed the Federal Government for issuing a sack threat against striking university teachers, saying the resort to such military-era tactics reflects the FG’s poverty of ideas in resolving the prolonged ASUU strike.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party in particular criticized the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, for the way he talked down on the striking teachers, while issuing the ill-advised, go-back-to-work-or-be-sacked threat.
”Wike’s language was crude, his presentation was rude and his threat was demeaning and counter-productive. We believe his lack of finesse and the inability to think out of the box in handling the whole strike issue will not bode well for a quick resolution of the crisis.
”We also disagree with the Minister’s inference that the lecturers should automatically call off the strike because the President intervened and sat for long hours with them. It is this unnecessary deification of a democratically-elected President that has almost turned this President into an Emperor. What is the big deal in President Jonathan sitting with ASUU members, his former colleagues for that matter? What is a President elected to do if not to solve problems?” it queried.
APC said it is unfortunate that Wike can be threatening to sack university teachers at a time there is a shortfall of 60,000 lecturers in Nigerian universities, adding that the threat itself has shown that the FG does not understand the enormity of the problems facing public universities in particular and the education sector in general.
”The poor remuneration of university teachers and the inadequate facilities for teaching and learning in our public universities have combined to trigger a brain drain in the institutions. The pauperization and frustration of the teachers through the non-implementation of the pacts aimed at ameliorating the situation have discouraged those who may want to become university teachers. Yet, the few who have defied the odds to take to this noble path of helping to mold our future leaders are being threatened with dismissal. This betrays a painful lack of understanding of the long and tortuous path it takes to produce a university teacher.
”It also shows that the so-called Supervising Minister of Education is not better than the misguided market women who, having being hired and paid to protest against ASUU, threatened to invade the universities to chase out the lecturers if they won’t call off the strike.
”This is what a country gets when it puts round pegs in square holes. It is not everyone who can mobilize campaign funds for the President or organize thugs during an election who should be rewarded with a ministerial post, not to talk of being given such a sensitive ministry as that of education, which is directly responsible for the future of our youth and of course our country. No one who knows the value of education will toe the path taken by Wike in issuing his empty threat,” the party said.
It said ASUU was right in demanding certain benchmarks, including the non-victimization clause and the need for a senior government official, like the Attorney-General, to sign the agreement, before calling off its strike, in view of the fact that the FG has a history of reneging on its agreements.
”Yes, our party is eager for this prolonged strike to end so that our youths who have been marooned at home for five months can resume their academic pursuit. Yes, we believe this strike has gone on for way too long, and that it will impact negatively on our country’s development in the long run. But we believe the issues at stake must be resolved once and for all, so that we won’t have a repeat of these recurring strikes.
”The onus rests on the FG to work with ASUU to resolve this lingering crisis. President Jonathan should get off his high horse, roll up his sleeves as Presidents elsewhere do and tackle squarely what has now become one of the biggest challenges facing his administration.
”However, if the Jonathan administration has run out of ideas, as we now fear it has, going by the infantile threats being issued by it, then let it hands off the negotiations and allow other stakeholders to find a way out. We are all stakeholders in the education of our youths,” APC said.