The former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has apologised to Nigerian students over the lingering strike by the Academic Union of Universities, saying his children are also affected.
Nwajiuba, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, tendered the apology during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
“I do apologise to Nigerian students because as their minister, I will take responsibility. But also, on behalf of the Federal Government, I would say: ‘Please understand what the issues are,’” he said during the current affairs show.
“All my four children have passed through Nigerian universities. I still have two who are at home now, because they are all in public universities.”
As part of moves to end the incessant industrial action by university lecturers in public schools, he said the Federal Government is working out a funding structure for the varsities.
“I have proposed, and the Minister of Education (Adamu Adamu) will continue discussing this with Mr. President, a new scheme in which universities have a different way of earning money to be able to care for themselves,” the APC chieftain explained.
“Because you see, there are only 50 of these federal universities and there are 200 others. However, these 50 alone are more than 75 per cent of the number of students in the entire university structure – about 2.2 million of them,” Nwajiuba added.
“So, it is important we give them a funding structure; we need to bring a funding structure to the table because this coming hand-in-cap to the Federal Government at all times cannot be continued and is not sustainable.”
According to Nwajiuba, university lecturers should find other means to press home their demands instead of going on strikes.
“In the last 20 years, we have had nearly 16 strikes. So, my position has not been that ‘Please, ASUU is talking rubbish’,” Nwajiuba said. “No, this is not true. ASUU is making a case for the entire university system.
But he said “the only point of departure is that we have asked ASUU that strikes cannot cure the problem”.
His comment came on the heels of ASUU’s extension of the strike embarked on by the union since February 14.
The lecturers are accusing the Federal Government of unwillingness to heed their demands.