The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as a cheap and ludicrous strategy the decision by the Federal Government to use market women, religious leaders and even students to put pressure on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its strike without resolving the issues that caused the strike in the first instance.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the strike, which is now in its fourth month, would have ended by now if the Federal Government had pursued its negotiations with ASUU with half the energy it has been using to rally various groups to protest against the union.
It described as particularly ridiculous the crowd-for-hire protest in Abuja on Monday by the so-called National Market Women Association, in which their leader vowed to chase lecturers out of Nigeria and replace them with ”jobless Nigerians”.
”This infantile statement by the leader of the apparently misguided market women is the most irresponsible statement that anyone has made on the long-drawn ASUU strike, and it is a shame that the government is the instigator of such nonsense.
”While indeed there are millions of jobless Nigerians, is it just any jobless Nigerian who can be a university teacher? How does President Goodluck Jonathan, himself a former university teacher, feel about those apparently hired by his administration treating university teachers with so much disrespect? Even if the government succeeds in forcing the lecturers back to the classroom, can it force them to teach effectively?
”Why are these groups, including students who have sold their souls to the devil, not mounting the same pressure on the Federal Government to intensify its efforts to end the strike? Why didn’t these groups protest when the First Lady embarked on a junket to receive a spurious award even as Nigerian public universities remain shut? After all, a government that said it will go broke if it honours its agreement with ASUU had no compunction shelling out huge tax payers money to fund the First Lady’s jamboree to South Korea,” APC said.
The party reminded those who are blaming ASUU for the strike that all the teachers are demanding are better infrastructure for the universities, a favourable condition for teaching and research as well as an enhanced pay that will stem the tide of brain drain, which has left the country’s public tertiary institutions struggling to get high-quality faculties.
”How are these demands anti-students, as some thoughtless students and misled market women have alleged?” it queried.
APC reiterated its earlier call on the FG to respect the agreement it signed with ASUU, saying if the government would cut waste, adequately tackle corruption and show more prudence, there will be more than enough resources to spend on the education of the nation’s youth, without which there will be no development.
The party asked President Jonathan to tender an unreserved apology to ASUU for the antics of his administration in using public funds to induce fake and easy-to-manipulate individuals and groups to launch scurrilous attacks on the striking teachers.