By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Director General of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has warned that a fresh strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is inevitable by February next year unless there are clear ways to mobilise the N40 billion earned academic allowances and the N30 billion revitalisation funds as agreed between federal government and the lecturers union on December 23.
Lukman, who is the DG of PGF, an umbrella body of Governors elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), in a statement he issued yesterday, which he titled ‘ASUU and Indeterminate Power Struggle – The Boko Haram Logic’, expressed doubts that meeting the N30 billion revitalisation demand by ASUU will not be a priority, hence it will trigger fresh demand and ultimatum when the lecturers would review government compliance with December 23 agreement by next year February.
According to him, “The component referred to as so-called revitalisation fund, coming from the N30 billion, may hardly be a priority. As a result, once there is a meeting in February or March 2021 to review implementation of the agreement, Nigerians may likely start hearing allegations of non-implementation that may be followed with fresh rounds of ultimatum.”
Speaking further, Lukman said the time has come for the federal government to engage the lecturers on how to find a permanent solution to the challenge of academic disruption by strike.
He asked “How can Nigeria get out of this sad state of ‘perpetual flux’? However, one considers it, something must give, if the challenges facing our public university system are to be resolved.
“Unless both ASUU and FG are able to produce a clearly outlined sources of mobilising the funds to implement the provisions of the December 23, 2020 agreement, it is safer to assume that the agreement is already in breach.
“With reference to funding, there are issues that are beyond ASUU and therefore any agreement with ASUU may likely be a source of dispute with other sections of the university community and educational sector, including students.
“Already, from the agreement with ASUU, this is implied given that part of the N40 billion disbursed for earned academic allowances is to be shared with non-academic staff. After exhausting the N40 billion, what next? Should we assume that it will be the end of allowances in Nigerian public universities? Certainly not. If there are new earned academic allowances, how will the resources be generated?”
Lukman who compared the ASUU strike to the agenda of the Boko Haram insurgents, said both are working to destroy Western education in Nigeria.
“It is very sad that it is common knowledge now that in the last twenty-one years, ASUU was on strike for a record period of more than four years. Worse still is the fact that we have people who claimed to be public intellectuals that present such a reprehensible scorecard and by any standard a scandalous credential as achievement is sickening.
“At this rate, we may as well accept that Boko Haram terrorists are also public intellectuals. In any event, who is a public intellectual? Aren’t Boko Haram terrorists engaged in critical thinking, research and reflections? If their mission is to abolish western education, how farther away from that mission is the activity of any group that cause closure of our universities for nine months in one academic calendar?
“If our universities are closed for nine months, what does that mean to the remainder of the education system? Assuming that secondary students are able to pass their exams, will they gain admission into universities? Where will the space come from when existing students have not graduated?”