The All Progressives Congress (APC) has decried Federal Government’s insincere and amateurish handling of the strike that has paralysed academic work in public universities.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the tepid and half-hearted way the government has handled the strike has shown that it does not place much premium on education, which is the path to national development.
It said there is no better indication of the government’s disdain for education than the fact that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration has continued in its profligate ways even as students caught in the web of the strike have remained at home when they should be engaged in academic work.
APC said since the strike began, the Jonathan administration has thrown at least two mega, money-guzzling dinners in Abuja, perhaps the best example of the aphorism ‘Nero fiddling while Rome burns’. In one of such frivolities, the President and his party folks feasted joyously at a post-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) convention dinner even as hapless students were bemoaning their fate over the strike.
The party said it was also in the midst of the strike that the First Lady organised the so-called peace rally that brought hundreds of unsuspecting women to Abuja in what later turned out to be a march of shame. The Abuja gathering must have gulped millions of naira.
“Yet, some ministers had the temerity to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians by saying government will shut down if it meets Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU’s) demands. What an affront! They did not say Nigeria would shut down when the country paid out N3 trillion in non-existent fuel subsidies; they did not say Nigeria would shut down over the N1 trillion spent in the last eight years on less than 500 people; they did not say Nigeria would shut down due to Federal Government’s monumental profligacy, which includes spending billions of naira to pamper ex-militants, some of who are now so overfed that they are threatening the country’s existence!
“It is particularly shocking that the government has carried on as if everything is normal, without bothering about the fate of the students, who have been marooned at home since the strike started. Perhaps this is because the children and wards of those at the helm are luxuriating in schools abroad, or because they are too comfortable to worry about their less-fortunate compatriots,” it said.
APC also said the fact that the strike has persisted despite President Jonathan’s directive, widely reported by the media, to the Federal Government’s negotiating team to do everything possible to end it, says a lot about the administration’s credibility.
“In fact, the negotiations between ASUU and Federal Government were called off two days after the President issued his directive. So much for credibility!” the party said.
APC reiterated its earlier call on the Federal Government, in a statement it issued on August 20, to immediately implement the agreement it willingly reached with ASUU in 2009 and stop wasting its energy on why the agreement cannot be implemented, saying: “Agreements are meant to be respected, not repudiated.”