The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has told the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, to resign “and take to farming as a worthy national service.”
The call was made on Tuesday, October 6, by the lecturers’ body on the heels of a statement credited to the junior minister in which he told the striking ASUU members to go to farm if they do not want to agree with terms of their employer.
The union said Nwajiuba’s statement is a reflection of his shallow understanding of the academic profession and the low premium the government places on education.
ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan, Professor Ayo Akinwole, said the minister has “displayed his naivety on educational matters”.
According to Akinwole, the scarcity of farmers is a reflection of the failure of the government to make farming secured for legitimate farmers.
He said lecturers decided to continue to fight parasites like Nwajiuba, who presides over a ministry where no Nigerian university is ranked among the first 100 in the world.
According to him, if the President Muhammadu Buhari government is not paying lip service to education, he would not have consistently reduced budgetary allocation and funding to the sector since assumption of office.
He added that public university lecturers are owed earned academic allowances from 2013 to date, challenging the minister to declare if he has been owed allowances and how much since he assumed office.
He maintained that available statistics show salaries of university lecturers are below what is paid to academics in polytechnics and colleges of education.
He said, “If the Minister of State for Education is interested in farming, he should resign his appointment and stop displaying his cluelessness of the problems in the education sector.
“We are on a just fight to ensure that those in public offices become responsive and responsible to the masses they swore to serve.
“They must fund public education. We have been on the same salary since 2009. That is no longer sustainable.
“The universities are being run with personal sweats of lecturers while politicians siphon monies for personal aggrandizement.
“We cannot accept IPPIS that is against the laws of the land and which fails to recognise the uniqueness of the academic profession and culture.
“We have brought an alternative using our members’ money. People like this Minister of State mirror the disdain of the ruling class for the workers and the people of the country.”