Nigeria’s education minister, Adamu Adamu, has said it would be difficult for the federal government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to agree for a suspension of the ongoing indefinite strike action due to crashing oil prices.
Adamu who was addressing reporters in Abuja stated that the well-being of the education sector of the country was solely dependent on oil-generated revenues of the government.
“I must say that this is difficult to reconcile with all the efforts and positive achievements we have been able to make. Let me begin by saying that the issues necessitating this strike date back to 2009 when the then government of late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua signed an agreement with the ASUU on funding of the federal universities in the country,” Adamu said.
Adamu explained that the agreement between the federal government and ASUU was reached during the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, when the country was enjoying the oil boom.
He said the crash in the prices of oil had affected the economic fortunes of Nigeria, adding that if the economy improves, the wellbeing of the education sector will be affected positively.
“The agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3trillion over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing the oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that the government will be able to meet the terms of an agreement.”
“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years thereby throwing the country into economic hardship, at the inception of this administration the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose-diving into recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education,” Adamu said.
The minister, however, expressed optimism that the education sector and its stakeholders would see improvements if oil prices become more stable in the country.
“We exited recession not too long ago, and we are just beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily beginning to pick up.”
“If this trend continues, definitely, the education sector will also improve, in other words, the well-being of the education sector and any other sector of the country’s economy is a function of the international oil prices, this is the stack reality for now which all of us must acknowledge and accept,” Adamu said.
The minister appealed to ASUU, parents and students to exercise restraint in their response to the plight of the education sector.
He urged them to be mindful of the fact that other sectors of the economy were also competing with similar needs.
Abiodun Ogunyemi, national president of ASUU, had said the strike became necessary due to the government’s failure to honour a memorandum of understanding (MoU) it signed with the union.