Federal government on Monday said it did not have the financial power now to meet demands of Academy Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Minister of education, Mr Adamu Adamu, disclosed this while addressing journalist in Abuja. He said the crash in prices of oil globally has affected economic fortunes of Nigeria.
This, he explained, had dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education.
The government also accused the administration of late president, Mr Umaru Yar’Adua, of making bogus promises to the union during a period of oil boom.
“Let me begin by saying that issues necessitating this strike date back to 2009 when the then government of late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua signed an agreement with ASUU on funding of the federal universities in the country,” he said.
According to the education minister, the agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3 trillion over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that government would be able to meet the terms of 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,” he said.
Adamu said the country just exited recession and is beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices.
“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.”
The minister appealed to both parents, ASUU and students to exercise restraint in their response to the education sector.
He said the union should be mindful of the fact that other sector of the economy were competing with similar financial needs.
“We must also be mindful that there are other sectors with similar competing needs, if our universities produce graduates, such graduates must work in other sectors of the economy which must also be supported by government,” he said.
ASUU, on Monday, embarked on an indefinite strike after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Akure, Ondo State, on Sunday.