The Federal Government on Wednesday lambasted the Academic Staff Union Universities, ASUU for refusing to call off its six-month strike.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba in Abuja, said the bulk of education budget was being spent on 10,500 professors in Nigeria’s public universities.
Faulting ASUU’s request for more funds, the minister said the union should realise that no sector in the country was getting enough money.
He also said the union’s penchant for strike was driving public school students abroad and to private universities.
Following their disagreement with the Federal Government over non-implementation of 2009 agreements and opposition to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, which government insisted all workers must adopt, the lecturers on March 23 began an indefinite strike.
On Friday, the Federal Government directed all educational institutions to resume on Monday next week as the spread of COVID-19, which necessitated the shutting down of the schools had reduced.
But on Monday, the President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said that no member of the union would resume because they could not work on an empty stomach.
The minister of state for education said ASUU could not blame government for not running universities well, saying the institutions were run by the union members.
According to him, the bulk of the money that is being budgeted for education is paid to the 10,500 professors, out of the 71,000 lecturers in Nigeria.
He said, “Actually, there have been a lot of people asking me as minister what I think is the real intention of ASUU. If you look at it critically, what ASUU is achieving by this (strike) is driving students to private universities and out of the country.
“There is nothing that is now an issue. Even if you say universities are not well run, it is ASUU members that run them. If you say there is no enough money given to education, there is no enough money given to anything in Nigeria.
“The bulk of the money that is in education is paid to these professors. There are 71,000 lecturers in Nigeria alone, with 10,500 of them as professors. There are some countries that don’t have up to 2000 (professors).”
“So, it is not enough to simply say we should bring more money; from where? The 2020 budget, underperformed as low as 62 per cent. We didn’t even collect revenue, there were no companies functioning to pay taxes.”
Although the minister said the bulk of education budget was being spent on university professors, he did not specify the amount being spent on the payment of the academics.
However, in 2018, the Federal Government budgeted N605.8bn for education, while in 2019, N620.5bn was allocated for the sector. In 2020, N671.1bn was earmarked for education.
Berating the union further, Nwajiuba said ASUU should cooperate with government and other Nigerians to fix the economy.
According to him, Nigeria is not inventing anything. He added that everybody depended on revenue from 1.5 million barrels of crude oil produced by the country.