The Federal Government has accused the Academic Staff Union of Universities of selfishness over the strike it embarked upon.
The Minister of State for Education, Mr Emeka Nwajiuba, who stated this in an interview also took a swipe at the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions for also going on strike.
Two weeks ago, SSANU and NASU began a two-week warning strike.
Among others, JAC is demanding payment of earned allowances. It also faulted the usurpation of non-academic career positions by vice-chancellors.
JAC on Friday also extended its strike by another two weeks. ASUU, which began its strike on February 14, accused the government of poor commitment to the payment of the academic earned allowance, among others.
Nwajiuba, in an interview said there was no point in the unions disrupting the lives of students because of money that they would eventually be paid.
The minister stated that the workers were still receiving their salaries despite their refusal to call off the strikes.
According to him, it is selfish for the unions to shut down the universities, saying they are not the only ones that have demands.
He said other unions including the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, unlike varsities unions, were considerate.
According to him, ASUP and COEASU are ready to bear with the government.
He explained that the government had no money to fund the union’s requests at a go as the sale of petroleum had dropped drastically in the country.
The minister also defended the decision of the Federal Government to establish more universities, saying it was part of efforts to increase access to university education.
According to him, government licensed 20 universities last year; another 12 this year. “It is our belief that Nigeria is still below 250 universities for 250 million people,” he added.
He said no fewer than 1.5 million candidates write Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination every year, out of which only 600,000 are admitted.
While reacting to Nwajiuba’s allegations, National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, faulted the claim that the government had no money.
Osodeke added that the plan of the government and the elite was to devalue the government tertiary institutions so that every Nigerian would be forced to attend private institutions.
He emphasised that the government could afford to turn a deaf ear to the unions’ requests because politicians’ children were not schooling in Nigeria.