Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, has called on governments at all levels to give priority attention to education.
Ogunyemi made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Awka, Anambra State.
He said since the return of democracy to Nigeria 20 years ago, successive governments had merely paid lips service to the education sector.
Ogunyemi noted that as a result of this, most Nigerian universities were ordinary caricatures to what ideal universities should be.
He said: “Look at our budgets for education in the last five years at national; we have not gone beyond 8 per cent such that in 2018, the sector was given seven per cent, which was a far cry from what we need.
“Though we say that the Federal Government was not doing much, the state governments are even the worst culprits.
“The governors prefer awarding contracts in primaries and secondary schools rather than to pay counterpart fund to enable them access Universal Basic Education Commission funds.
“In 2017, a total of 17 states could not access their fund piling up in UBEC because they couldn’t pay their counterpart fund.”
Ogunyemi said if things must work, governments had look into the education system and tackle the myriad of challenges plaguing the sector.
He insisted that numerous challenges bedeviling the country such as insecurity, unemployment, drug related offences, cultism and other socio-economic cum political challenges were due to poor attention to the education sector.
Ogunyemi, who was in Awka to attend the valedictory lecture and book presentation by Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Ikenna Onyido, used the occasion to appeal to the Federal Government to release the N25 billion it agreed with ASUU in February.
He said: “During last strike we embarked on, FG assured ASUU that it will pay N25 billion out of the whole lot Government was supposed to pay to the universities.
“Since February 17 that we entered the agreement with government and they said in two weeks time, this is three months now, nothing has happened.”
The ASUU boss called on Nigerians to talk to the government on the matter, noting that his leadership of the union would not have the power to prevent its members from any action they want to take on the issue.