Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vowed that he will end incessant strikes by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on his first day is office if elected as next president of Nigeria.
“I am aghast that as I speak, our students across the nation are not being educated due to the ASUU strike caused by an unresolved debate of about N60 billion,” Atiku said in a statement.
“If I get the job I am seeking, my first task on day one – along with naming my cabinet – will be to end this disgraceful strike and get our students back to their studies,” he added.
Abubakar said he will prioritize education above all and he intends to increase the budgetary allocation to education from the current 7 per cent to not less than 20 per cent.
“I recognise the value education can bring to the individual and the nation. But even more than that, I want every child in Nigeria to have the opportunities I had,” he said.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) industrial strike has become recurrent over the years. The strike actions are usually as a result of the federal government not responding to the lecturers’ demands at the time they ask for it.
The union’s first strike action since Nigeria returned to democracy was in 1999 under the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, which Abubakr was his running mate and it lasted five months before it was called off.
In 2001, ASUU embarked on another strike action that lasted three months. The lecturers also embarked on strike in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017 and the latest which started on 4th November 2018 is still ongoing.
The recent strike started following the demands of the staff union for the implementation of previous agreements with the government for improved funding of universities.
Three months after, the Nigerian government has failed to reach to meet the demands.
Recently the minister of labour, Chis Ngige said the accountant general and the ministry of finance have confirmed with evidence that N15.4 billion had been released to public universities.
Ngige also said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N20 billion to be used to offset the outstanding arrears of the 2009 to 2012 verified earnings in the universities.
He said the earned allowances will be released to ASUU as soon as the process is completed.
However, the president of the union Biodun Ogunyemi has described the government’s offer on the outstanding revitalization fund of N1.1 trillion as tokenism, said members insisted that government should release at least a tranche of N220 billion spread over four quarters of 2019.
He affirmed that on earned allowances, government’s proposal should not be lesser than the total amount released “the last time” out of the verified balance.
Nigerians will be heading to poll less than in two weeks to vote in a new president.
Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari is seeking re-election with Abubakar mounting a strong challenge.
Abubakar, a former vice president during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration from 1999 till 2007, is contesting the office of the president for the fourth time.