The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, says the Federal Government cannot ground activities in order to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He said this on Friday while Featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
While noting that the government had done its best, he appealed to parents to “beg” ASUU.
He said: “Should we go and borrow to pay N1.2 trillion yearly? You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion. And you have roads to build, health centres to build, other sectors to take care of.
“Like the President said the other time, those who know them, appeal to their sense of patriotism. Let them go back to classes. They are not the only ones in Nigeria. They are not the only ones feeding from the federal purse. The nation cannot grind to a halt because we want to take care of the demands of ASUU.”
On February 14, ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike. The union extended the industrial action by another two months on March 14, to allow the government to meet all of its demands. A 12-week extension was announced on May 9.
Last week, ASUU extended the strike by a month, vowing to persist until its demands are met.
The strike, according to the union, was as a result of the failure of the government to meet some demands such as the release of the revitalisation funds for universities, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers, renegotiation of the ASUU-Federal Government 2009 agreement among others.
Another is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). The academics have proposed an alternative payroll system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Since the strike began, stakeholders had called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to find a lasting solution to the strike.