On Tuesday, Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights lawyer, urged President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to meet the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ urgent demands.
According to NigerianWatch, Buhari broke his silence on Monday’s current university professors’ strike.
The strike, which began on Monday, February 14, 2022, has halted academic activity in Nigerian public institutions.
In a statement sent by his spokeswoman, Garba Shehu, Buhari warned the academics that enough was enough.
Falana, on the other hand, accused the government of disregarding the union’s earlier warning strikes.
“ASUU began the present strike four months ago to push the Federal Government to comply with the FG/ASSU Agreement on financing all federal institutions in Nigeria.” According to the contractual agreement, the total cash the FG is required to contribute to renovate the universities is N200 billion to meet its obligations.
“Previously, the Federal Government has ignored the ASUU’s warning strikes.” Thus, the current strike that has paralyzed federal institutions has persisted due to the Federal Government’s failure to satisfy its obligations under the FG/ASUU Agreement. However, the Federal Government has claimed a shortage of funds to excuse the unjustified breach of the agreement.
“Rather than addressing the outstanding grey areas in the protracted negotiations, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Visitor to all federal universities in the country, has urged ASUU to consider the long-term impact of the strike on students and the generational consequences on families, the educational system, and the country’s future development,” Falana said in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja.
Further, Falana stated, “The Nigerian people have taken the Federal Government’s allegation that it lacks the financial wherewithal to pay for university education with a grain of salt.” The Federal Government has not prioritized higher education because of the large public funds spent on other initiatives.
“For example, the electrical sector and counter-insurgency operations in two sections of the nation have cost N6 trillion with no discernible results.” According to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, N5.4 trillion is owed by a segment of the comprador bourgeoisie whose hazardous loans were purchased with public funds. Despite spending N443 billion on petroleum imports from January to June 2022, the National Assembly has budgeted N4 trillion for the same commodity from July to December 2022 because of the nation’s refineries’ slumber.
“The Federal Government has also made N100 billion available for the revitalization of the textile sector; N850 billion for rice production; N250 billion for autogas vehicle conversion; and other funds for the school feeding program.” The Independent National Electoral Commission has received N100 billion as the first tranche of the 2022 budget to hold the 2023 general election, in addition to its yearly budget of N40 billion.
“A government that can afford to spend billions of naira on the aforementioned projects cannot afford to disregard higher education spending.” As a result, the federal government should take steps to terminate the ASUU strike as soon as possible. Instead of lamenting the strike, President Buhari should quickly submit to the National Assembly a supplementary budget for appropriating the N200 billion necessary to renovate federal universities. This demand conforms with the conditions of the FG/ASUU Agreement, which is legally obligatory on the Federal Government. The National Assembly, concerned parents, progressive civil society organizations, and other important stakeholders should press President Buhari to act immediately to stop the strike.”