June 15, 2024

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ASUU: Lagos Traditional Ruler Laments Prolonged Strike Action, Poor Living Conditions of Academic Staff

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Mojisola Lawal

Traditional ruler in Otumara community in Lagos State, High Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye, has bemoaned the Federal Government foot-dragging in bringing to an end the strike actions embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Unions of University, ASUU which, according to him, has not only crippled education sector but also inflicted financial difficulties on university staffs.

Kalejaiye made the statement at an interactive session with undergraduates and secondary school students in Lagos Mainland on Sunday where he also reacted to the death of a data entry staff of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prince Carter Oshodin who committed suicide over months of unpaid salaries due to the strike action. 

Lamenting the poor living conditions of members of staffs of Nigerian Universities and Federal Government’s underfunding of education, he appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to increasing budgetary allocation to the education sector and accede to the demands of ASUU.

He described a situation whereby University staffs would contemplate suicide as a getaway from financial difficulties and hardship as harmful, inhuman and demoralising.

He said, “The country’s education sector is gradually sliding into comatose despite a former University lecturer, Adamu Adamu at the helm of affair of the sector.

It is troubling that Nigerians are the enemies of Nigerians. We derive pleasure in destroying and inflicting hardship and pains on ourselves with the country’s political elites and elected public officers paying lip services to fighting the scourge of corruption.

I pray the good Lord bless the soul of late Prince Carter Oshodin, a data entry staff of UNIBEN who had to end his life over financial difficulties and his inability to pay the school fees of his daughters due to the refusal of the FG to accede to the demands of ASUU.

As a University worker, the deceased could not meet his financial obligations to his family whereas governors and politicians pay in dollars to see their children through universities abroad. This is a pathetic situation.

The Federal Government is lamenting dearth of funds yet the Accountant General of the Federation is standing trial for stealing N90billion public fund.

There is no justification for the FG not granting the demands of ASUU . If they say they don’t have money, can’t they go borrowing to offset the backlog of salaries for the lecturers to return to classrooms?

But this, they won’t do because education is not their priority.

No responsible government would allow its tertiary institutions to be shutdown for seven months without any solution in view. 

You cannot imagine the damage the strike action has caused in the lives of the students. The females among them are falling pregnant and going into prostitution while the males are going into cyber crimes and other vices to survive.

I am therefore appealing to Executive and members of the National Assembly to declare a state of emergency in education to once and for all address the issue confronting the sector because the sector is in crisis.” 

Commenting further on the Federal Government allocation to education, Kalejaiye said, since he assumed office in 2015, the highest budgetary allocation to the education sector by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is 7.9 per cent which, he said, falls below UNESCO benchmark of 26 per cent.

He however appealed to the president to increase funding to the education to enhance academic researches and quality learning environment for the students.

He said, “The surest way of the country’s economic and insecurity woes is to invest more in education. The FG government need to increase annual funding for education and make education accessible to Nigerians with a better Welfare package for the lecturers and other academic staff.

If our lecturers, medical doctors and other professionals are encouraged and motivated to work, the problem of brain drain would be half solved.”

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