By Gbenro Adeoye
July 23, 2009 12:29AMT
University lecturers have again called on the Federal Government to honour the agreement it reached with them. The call was made at a rally organised by the University of Lagos chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), at the main gate of the institution on Wednesday.
The Union insists the indefinite strike will continue until the government decides to sign and implement the agreement on funding education in the country.
Spend more on Education
The lecturers displaying placards said they rejected the 40 percent salary increment recently announced by the Federal Government.
According to them, the purpose of the rally was to inform the public that the Union's demands went beyond remuneration, and that the agreement included an increase in the funding of education and university autonomy. Samuel Jegede, a lecturer at the Department of Philosophy asked: "Will 40 percent increment to my own salary bring electricity and facility to the classrooms?"
He said that the classroom where he graduated 14 years ago with 34 other students is where he lectures about 500 students now.
Ayo Olowe, the chairman of ASUU, University of Lagos chapter, while speaking with journalists said, the fund allocated to education is too small for the country to make meaningful progress in the sector.
"In a situation whereby they (FG) are spending less than two percent of the national budget on education, as opposed to UNESCO's standard of 26 percent; the government is just not serious," said Mr. Olowe.
The Union chairman also condemned the Minister of Education, Sam Egwu, saying he had been insensitive to the issues currently surrounding education in the country.
He said: "While Nigerian universities are in crisis, the man (Sam Egwu) is spending so much money, lavishly on birthday parties. It makes him highly irresponsible as the Minister of Education."
On Industrial Arbitration Panel
On the directive by the Industrial Arbitration Panel that the Union should call off the ongoing strike after the dispute was taken to the panel by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Olowe said the Union would disregard the directive.
"They (IAP) did not follow due process," he said. "We are in a democratic society. If somebody brings a case to you, you should hear from all parties. They did not; rather they just asked us to go back to work."
In his parting words, Mr. Olowe said, "Unless the government is ready to sign the agreement, the struggle continues."
A student's view
Ibukun Salami, a 200 level Systems Engineering student of the institution blames the Federal Government for the crisis.
She said: "Government should just listen to these people (lecturers) and answer them. What ASUU is saying is true; a lot of things have to be improved on in our universities. In my faculty, we need a lot of equipment and computers."