The President of the Midwest Movement, Dr Pedro Obaseki, has advised the Federal Government and university lecturers to consider the negative impact of the ongoing strike on millions of students and parents.
Obaseki, a former Financial Secretary of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Sunday that the ASUU was germane to the nation’s capacity building.
According to him, there is the need for massive investment in education sector for the nation to grow.
He said: “No father or mother will feel happy with what is going on.
“ASUU should factor the larger Nigerian populace into the industrial action. Millions of students and parents are suffering.”
According to him, the Federal Government has continually backed down in fulfilling its commitment to ASUU but there is a need for the present government to do more for education.
He said that as a former financial secretary of ASUU, he was jailed by late Gen. Sani Abacha for three months because he wrote about the poor salaries of university teachers.
According to him, my work entitled: “My boss is a comedian, the wages he pays is a joke’’ and “My take-home pay cannot take me home’’ landed me in jail.
Obaseki said: “Education, anywhere in the world matters. It is the Federal Government that creates enabling environment for education to thrive.
“I taught at several places in New York and UK. Universities are not run by the Federal Government.”
He said that until “the nation is properly restructured with power devolution, most of the challenges facing the nation, including education sector will not be solved”.
“If Lagos State is handed the University of Lagos and the state keeps 50 per cent of its revenue derivation; less than one per cent of it can take care of the entire university.
“By the time lecturers in UNILAG are put on the same salary structure with those either in the University of Maiduguri or University of Sokoto, the living indices will be different.
“A senior lecturer in Lagos may pay N1 million as rent per annum, while a house of the same comfort may be N150, 000 in Sokoto or Maiduguri.
“Those things are micro and macroeconomic factors that should be built into the entire system. There’s a need for restructuring.”
According to him, if the enabling environment is properly created, education will thrive and ASUU may not be as it is today.
Obaseki said that he had privately written to the ASUU leadership to consider the helpless students and parents.
According to him, the nation cannot continue to play with the education of the children.
He said: “We cannot continue to produce half-baked graduates at that level.”
The union embarked on strike on November 5 over alleged poor funding of Nigerian universities and non-implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed with it, among others.
The Federal Government on Tuesday resumed talks with leaders of ASUU over the ongoing strike in public universities and will still meet on December 10.
NAN reports that the striking lecturers had engaged the Federal Government in series of negotiations but all ended in deadlock.