Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi on Monday declared that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) needed not to have embarked on strike action.
According to him, the union and tertiary institutions in the country have fared better under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Fayemi, spoke with journalists in Paris at the end of the President’s interactive session with Nigerians living in France.
With competing demands for the national resources by the various sectors, he said that ASUU cannot have everything it wants.
He said; “If you talk about tertiary education, ASUU is on strike, but you ask yourself, why is ASUU on strike. ASUU claimed that it is on strike because it wants improvement in the fortunes of education in Nigeria and that government has not lived up to expectations.”
“I made bold to say that no government has done as much as this government has done. Not just for ASUU, but for tertiary education in our country.”
“Is it enough? Absolutely, it’s not going to be enough. We have to keep doing more.”
“But ask yourself what was the average wage in the University system before. A university professor earn more than me as a governor. My salary as a governor is N500,000. Most university professors earn about the same amount if not more.”
“Yes, you may argue that there are other opportunities available, there are also other opportunities that are available that are not being taken advantage of by our academics. I can say a little bit about this because this is my terrain.”
“I do not think that ASUU on its own strength can argue that government has not done well. There is hardly any institution in Nigeria today, including states universities, that have not had the benefit of intervention.”
“It is either the government is building an auditorium or rehabilitating a laboratory, or improving on students hostels in virtually all the universities as I speak to you. That’s what TETFUND does via their intervention funds. That again is not the complete solution.” he said
The governor said that there is need to revisit a whole lot of things about education policy in the country.
He added “Can we continue to maintain a tuition-free education in Nigeria, in even Federal universities. What UNESCO pushes for, what most universal human rights positions argue for, is that basic education should be free. Basic education is free in Nigeria right up to secondary schools.”
“As for free university education, I’m not so sure that is what we really need right now. But in order to address that, we also must elevate the place of technical and vocational education in our country so that we don’t see those that go for technical education as inferior to those who go to universities.”
“Our educational system should focus on functionality rather than just certificates. I think this is what ASUU and other drivers of change in our economy should be arguing for.”
“Can we add more resources to education budget? Absolutely we can. But when you have competing needs, you cannot have everything that you want. And this is something ASUU needs to know,” he said
He also pointed out that education is the responsibility of the three tiers of government and not just that of the Federal Government.
“When we talk about 5% of the budget going into education, we often do not take into account recurrent expenditure, we focus on capital expenditure.”
“Secondly, we exclusively think that the Federal Government alone is responsible for education. Education is a responsible across the board and there are states budgets that must be factored into that total picture.”
“Also there is local governments budget that must be factored into that picture because basic education is the responsibility at the lower level of government.” he said