Despite objection by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the federal government would pay lecturers for the period they were on strike, Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, has declared.
He said this Wednesday while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The strike has been called off and the government has paid them what is due to them. I think that’s the position of the government; that it is not going to pay anyone for work not done and they only did, I think, the number of days that they were paid,” he said.
The minister also dismissed the allegation that paying the lecturers on pro-rata basis was a ploy to make them casual workers.
“Nobody can make university lecturers casual workers. How can anybody make a university lecturer a casual. Do you know the meaning of casual worker? If you know the meaning of the casual worker, it is impossible to make a university lecturer a casual worker,” Adamu said.
Asked if the federal government would be willing to take steps to assuage the ASUU and stave off further hostilities, the minister said: “I don’t understand. Is there any problem now?”
When told the aggrieved lecturers planned work-free-day, he said: “Oh? Okay, I’m not aware. I’m not aware. That they are going on strike? No, nobody has told me.
“So let’s wait till the work-free-day comes, then I’ll find out the details and we’ll discuss, you can ask me then, but at the moment, I’m telling you honestly, I do not know that there is a problem”, he said.
FEC okays N8 billion contracts
Adamu also said the FEC approved over N8 billion contracts for the Federal Ministry of Education.
He said the amount covered the cost of printing of sensitive and non-sensitive materials for the National Examination Council (NECO) perimeter fencing for the Usman Danfodio University Sokoto.
“Council approved three memos and all three of them are contracts. The first one is for the National Examination Council (NECO) for the printing of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, which was given to eight contractors in the sum of 5,107,364,373.62.
“The second one is a contract for the perimeter fencing of Usman Dan Fodio University in the sum of 3,269,761,783.43 to Amis Construction Nigeria limited,” he said.
Adamu also stated that the council also approved procurement of 18 ambulances for some unity schools spread across the six geo-political zones of the country.
“The third one is a contract for the supply of 18 ambulances fitted with medical equipment to 18 of our unity schools. We have more than 100 of them but we just decided to select three is each geo-political zone,” he said.
ASUU: Sultan, Babalakin on way out
Meanwhile, Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and Mr Wale Babalakin (SAN), have said tertiary institutions cannot be singlehandedly funded by the government if the incessant strike would stop.
They spoke Wednesday at the Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun state, during the commissioning of the Bola Babalakin Guest House donated by the family of the late Justice of the Supreme Court Bola Babalakin, to the institution.
Babalakin said: “For any discerning person in the education sector, it is very clear that government at all levels, as structured today, cannot singlehandedly fund education.
“The resources required to fund a proper education system are simply not there or are not easily available.
“For this reason, educational institutions especially tertiary institutions must continue to find ways of generating revenue from sources that will not detract from their primary the goal of providing a very good education for the students.”
He said the facility donated by his family would provide accommodation for visiting scholars and friends of the university and also generate income for the institution.
Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto said going on strike was not the best solution to the problem of education.
He said negotiation should be employed in settling matters instead of subjecting students to the ‘psychological and emotional trauma’ they have undergone in the last eight months.
“We just came out of an unfortunate ASUU crisis. I believe we have come out of it. Our children were at home for 8 months, very sad and frustrating. But these are things that we could have avoided by continuously talking. The best thing is that anytime there is a problem, you sit down and discuss it to find a way out.
“The government cannot fund all educational issues. People should come out and help to fund public institutions so that we can have a better situation in our schools, especially our tertiary institutions,” Sultan added.
In his remarks, Osun state Governor Adegboyega Oyetola commended the Babalakin family for their contributions to the education and well-being of humanity, promising that his government would not relent in providing enabling environment for private institutions to thrive.
He advised beneficiaries of the project to ensure prompt and adequate maintenance of the facility, such that it would attract other donors to want to do more.
Dignitaries at the occasion include Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN), JAMB Registrar Prof Isiaq Oloyede, Deputy Governor Benedict Alabi and Justice Aderibigbe Adeigbe (retd) among others.