Chairperson of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State chapter, Dr Socrates Ebo, has lamented that the ongoing strike by university teachers in the country is a clear demonstration that governments have completely abandoned education.
Ebo, in a statement in Yenagoa, while reacting to the negotiation between the Union and the government team led Nimi Briggs Committee, said it is sad that the government has completely abdicated its responsibility as far as education is concerned.
The ASUU chairperson who questioned the sincerity of the government in implementing the recommendations of the various committees, also decried what he described as the lack of coordination between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education with regard to the strike.
According to Ebo, “When a government sets committee after committee and disowns their recommendations, you know that the government lacks coordination.
“What is certain is that there is no coordination between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education over the ongoing ASUU strike. The two ministries are clearly working at cross purposes.”
He berated the federal government for deploying the hunger strategy on varsity lecturers on the assumption that the brute force of hunger would force the striking lecturers back to the classroom.
“Our Union is negotiating with the government team which is the Nimi Briggs Committee. The committee is an agent of government not an agent of ASUU. The committee has reached some agreements with ASUU and presented the proposals to the government.
“That was exactly what the government mandated it to do. A sincere government would have signed the agreement without hassles. Even if there are grey areas, a sincere government would have implemented the areas it considers agreeable while working to fine-tune areas of disagreement.
“All these point to the clear unwillingness of the government to speedily resolve the impasse. The government on the other hand deploys the hunger strategy on the assumption that the brute force of hunger would force the striking lecturers back to the classroom.
“Let me tell you how worthless a lecturer’s salary is today. 10 years ago a fresh PhD holder earned N138 000. Ten years ago, a 200L LG refrigerator cost about N30 000. A Lecturer II could afford to purchase 4 such refrigerators with his one-month salary and still have reasonable change. Today, 10 years after, a fresh PhD holder’s salary has been reduced to about N128, 000 by IPPIS.
“Same 200L LG refrigerator now costs about N190 000. The same salary that could purchase 4 of them and have changed 10 years ago cannot purchase one such refrigerator. Yet the same lecturer is still receiving the same amount. It has even been reduced to N128 000 by IPPIS! This is a perfect demonstration of government economic brutality against lecturers,” Ebo stated.