The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday lashed out at the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, describing his statement that lecturers were sitting at home playing Ludo as reckless and uncharitable.
The Union stated that the arrogance of the Buhari administration was manifested through the unclipped mouths of his Ministers.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Ngige had reportedly asked ASUU to suspend its ongoing strike as precondition for renegotiating ASUU/FGN agreements, saying the lecturers were sitting at home playing Ludo games when they were supposed to be doing research on how to solve COVID-19 pandemic
ASUU in a release signed by the Ibadan Zonal Coordinator of the Union, Professor Ade Adejumo, stated that in a clime of responsible governance and leadership, the government would be making moves to meet the demands of the Union to get the strike suspended.
According to the Union, the members of the Union had been making giant inventions and playing frontline role in the fight against COVID-19 even when they had to contribute their money to develop ventilators because they had “irresponsible government that has refused to fund and invest in research.”
Adejumo stated that in a saner clime, people like Ngige would have resigned or become ex-Minister as a conciliator general of a government that lacks the will to honor Memorandum of Actions (MoAs) signed with the Union.
ASUU maintained that the Pandemic has exposed the wickedness of the leadership of Nigeria who votes 8 percent of her 2020 budget to education as against 26percent prescribed by UNICEF.
On the accusation against ASUU by the Accountant General of the Federation, ASUU declared that the accountant general should be bold enough to account for the corruption surrounding the IIPIS as exposed by the Union.
It maintained that AGF is boasting on trampling of the university Autonomy Act by forcefully enrolling her members into the fraudulent platform.
But the Union disclosed that the AGF should invite EFCC to arrest those who supplied fictitious names to the IPPIS stating that members of the Union do not prepare salaries nor work in Bursary department of institutions.
“We are also constrained to respond to the Minister’s uncharitable claim that Nigerian academics have been sitting down ‘at home playing Ludo and drafts and other games’ instead of conducting research for the discovery of new drugs and equipment for combating COVID-19 is least expected of someone who wears the garb of concilliator general of Nigeria.
“Such reckless statements has made him unqualified to stand as third party neutral in labour matters in Nigeria. In saner climes, he would have been advised to resign from his position or be removed ignominy.
“Records are available everywhere to show that most meaningful interventions on combanting the corona virus in Nigeria today are still being led academics in many states with the support of ASUU, even in the face of the general strike.
“We do this because we are aware of our responsibilities to the society as contained in our principles and laws.Chris Ngige should tell Nigerians how committed is the government to funding research activities in our universities?
“Is funding not at the centre of ASUU’s agitation over the years? A government that allocates less than 8% of its national budget to education instead of the universally agreed 26% benchmark for developing nation has lost the moral fibre to challenge its academics of not conducting research.
“A nation that develop hunger as a weapon against its academics should be looking for atonement of the sins of its moral deficit rather than embarking on face-saving blackmail that further offends man and God.
“Ngige should atone for this reprehensible sin by impressing it on this government to act right by earnestly paying attention to ASUU’s demands. To set the record straight, Ngige must be living in another planet if he has not seen or read about ASUU’s interventions in the war agaist coronavirus at its various branches. Is this a case of calloing the dog a bad name to hang it or outright mischief?
“The AGF should tell the nation why he has turned deaf ears to all the well documented sharp practices and brazen corruption associated with IPPIS that he is stoutly defending.
“The latest vituperations of the AGF against ASUU are akin to the desperation of a drowning man who clutches at anything to stay afloat.
“Now that his gross incompetence has been exposed to the whole world over the tragic collapse of his pet project (IPPIS), he thinks the best option for him is to start throwing blind punches at ASUU whom he considers responsible for his woes.
“If the AGF is honourable, he has only two options open to him. The first honourable option for him is to eat the humble pie, own up to the short-comings of IPPIS, apologise to the Nigerian workers to whom his tragic short-sightedness has caused unmitigated hardship and wind down the platform.
“The other option for him is to honourably throw in the towel for the monumental embarrassment that he has become to the government and the nation.
“To us, the AGF’s rantings here is reminiscent of the case of the foolish man afflicted by the embarrassing plague of leprosy but he is busy looking for antidote for eczema.”
Source: Daily Independent