The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Tuesday described the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba’s assertion that striking lecturers should consider farming as an alternative profession, as a reflection of his shallow understanding of the academic profession and a reflection of the low premium that the government he is serving placed on education.
While participating on a television program, Nwajiuba had suggested farming to the striking lecturers, who have said they will not return to the classrooms on October 12, as directed by the Federal Government, saying they cannot dictate how they should be paid to their employers.
But reacting to his comment, ASUU Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter, Professor Ayo Akinwole, while addressing journalists in Ibadan, said the Minister of State has “displayed his naivety on educational matters”.
According to Akinwole, the scarcity of farmers is a reflection of the failure of the government he is part of to make farming secured for legitimate farmers, while asking the minister to resign his appointment and take to farming as a worthy national service instead of pursuing a selfish agenda.
He said the Union remained resolute not to pursue only welfare of her members while downplaying the infrastructure collapse and underfunding of public universities, but decided to continue to fight parasites like Nwajiuba who preside over a ministry where no Nigerian university is in the top 100 in the world.
Akinwole stated that if the Muhammadu Buhari government was not paying lip service to education, he would not have consistently reduced budgetary allocation and funding to education since assumption of office, while lamenting that public varsity lecturers were being owed earned academic allowances from 2013 to date.
He challenged the Minister of State for Education to declare if he has been owed allowances and how much since he assumed office, stressing that available statistics showed that “salaries of university lecturers is below what is paid to academics in polytechnics and colleges of education”.