ABUJA–THE federal government said it was still not aware of reasons that caused the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
This was as it said universities founded and being funded by state governments have no business joining federal universities on strike,if the cause of the strike bothered on issues the union claimed.
Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, speaking in Abuja,also told the union that it lacked basic rights to dictate to the government how salaries of members who he noted,were employees, should be paid by government being their employer.
He said the federal government has limited resources and cannot borrow money to pay ASUU, saying government can only borrow money to fund infrastructure like railways and other critical infrastructure where it gets return from.
“Why they (ASUU) have chosen to go on strike is something that neither you nor I can explain”,he told reporters while answering questions on the federal government and ASUU face-off.
“In the school system,we have about 2.6 million Nigerian undergraduates in the nearly 200 universities across Nigeria. The federal government owns less than 50 of these universities. State governments own nearly 50 of them as well whereas private people,private organisations,faith based organisations own over 100 of them.
“The only part where children are not in school at the moment are the ones that belong to the federal government. So there is no need for any other university to be at home,”he said.
Nwajiuba explained that,”The engagement with Academic Staff Union of Universities,ASUU,has been a long drawn one,based on the 2009 agreement that was signed before we came into government.
” It is our duty as government to give life to those agreement which ASUU rightly seeks to make sure that the universities that the federal government owns are properly funded.
“The federal government’s funding is very limited and because of the additional challenges of security,it had to repeatedly borrow money to finance projects. This same borrowing is not available to build social infrastructure, it’s only available to build infrastructure that government can get return from,like railways.
“To borrow and pay people is normally not what World Bank or other financial institutions borrow money for.
However,the federal government has continued to address this by paying the salaries that are due.”
He said the university lecturers cannot continue to dictate to the government how their salaries be paid.
Hear him:”Government is the one who pays, therefore,it is impractical and incongruous that somebody who is paid a salary continues to dictate for someone who pays him.”