The National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi has urged the federal government to try ignorance if they think education is expensive.
Ogunyemi was reacting to a statement by the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba that the bulk of education budget was being spent on 10,500 professors in Nigeria’s public universities.
He asked, “ Is he saying that lecturers should not be paid. If he thinks education is expensive, he should try ignorance.
“I don’t know what that means. You think because you are paying lecturers, that’s where your bulk of money is going. How much are they paying those in the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) and the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation)? I don’t think it is something we should argue about.
“The truth is that everywhere you have seen innovation, invention and development, they invested in education and still investing in education. If any government official thinks that because they are investing in education, they should make life difficult for university lecturers, then they are preparing the ground for the collapse of the country.”
He stated, “You see what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. We didn’t have molecular laboratories. We didn’t have facilities that could empower Nigerian scientists to make meaningful intervention.
“In some cases, we had to use the contributions of our members to start producing hand sanitisers. Some of our branches actually used their own resources to develop sanitisers and dispensers.
“I wouldn’t understand the context which he said they were paying lecturers too much, when Nigerian lectures are actually the least paid in the whole world.”
“All over the world, the in-thing now is knowledge economy. How do you achieve knowledge economy when you don’t make facilities available to empower those that are making sacrifices to ensure that Nigeria could be counted among the leading nations in the world.”
He also berated the minister for condemning the union’s strike. He asked, “What of government’s penchant for not honouring agreements? These other places they are talking about, people will talk of Ghana and Benin Republic as abroad, are those places abroad? Members of the ruling class have made it impossible for us to achieve steady development in the education sector because they don’t have commitment.”
Ogunyemi also denied allegations that the lecturers were spending money meant for others.