TUC urges FG to borrow to end crisis and fund education

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By Gabriel Digue and Bimbola Oyesola

The The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on the Federal Government to end the seven-month-old strike by borrowing if necessary to meet the demand of beleaguered members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Its chairman, Festus Osifo, at a media conference with the Labor Writers Association of Nigeria in Lagos, noted that the government should use some of the infrastructure money to fund education.

According to him, the federal government is proposing to borrow 10 trillion to 11 trillion naira to finance the national budget in the medium term, saying that the government should withdraw from it to finance the demands of the ASUU.

“We borrowed money to solve our infrastructure problem, not money we borrow that can be compared to human capital development.

“If we don’t fix our education, it means we’re kidding. Human resources are essential. Today, many Nigerians are coming out in droves, it’s a brain drain. Our government needs to sit down with ASUU to resolve the crisis, if that means borrowing, let it…

“This is not our plea, the government had already made a plan. The government should take some of the money to solve the ASUU problem.

“If the money to be borrowed is to complete the second bridge or the railway line over the Niger, the question is who wants to use it? These sectors are no more important than education.

“We need to set our priority and the government needs to set its sights on thinking. In a civilized society, the government is made up of serious people. The common man on the street is more creative than people elected to public office,” he said.

He argued that the easiest way for Nigeria to get out of its current economic stalemate is to fund education, warning that failure to do so would be devastating.

He lamented that the ASUU strike kept students home long enough to end a term at the university with no solution in sight.

Osifo, who is also president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), lamented the brain drain in the country, saying the government that has failed to fix education is a prankster.

“We don’t know when the strike will be called off, all we hear is a blame game. The president has an obligation to solve this problem.

He urged the government to stick to its priority in funding education.

Meanwhile, ahead of the federal government’s scheduled meeting with federal university boards and vice chancellors today, ASUU yesterday denied the federal government’s claim that it had met 85% of its his requests.

The meeting was called to propose solutions to the strike, which began on February 14.

In a conversation with Daily Sun yesterday, ASUU Lagos Area Coordinator Adelaja Odukoya challenged the Federal Government to show Nigerians or list the demands of 85% ASUU he had implemented and warned that his slander campaign would not resolve the confrontation.

On terms of service, UTAS, promotion backlog, stopping university proliferation, revitalizing public universities and exceptional academic allowances, Odukoya said the federal government has not responded to any of the demands. .

Odukoya said the government promised to include the demands in the 2023 budget and the details were not even documented. He revealed that a year after the government promised to make available a white paper on visiting commissions for federal universities, it has not been done.

The coordinator said that no state university has withdrawn from the ongoing industrial action, adding that the State University of Lagos has problems and is not part of the union, the University of Osun State, suspended for withdrawing from the last strike and Kwara State University, an observer status, which was withdrawn because it was not serious. Odukoya added that Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni and Delta State University, Abraka were under sanction and therefore not part of the ongoing strike.

Asked about Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai, Gombe State University and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, whose governors led their reopening , Odukoya said they were on strike and the members did not return to work as instructed.

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