The Nigerian federal government called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end its several-month-long strike and accused the opposition All Progressives Congress of politicizing and manipulating the industrial action.
“By the time we finish with the strike, the crisis will take its toll on states as many of them won’t be able to pay allowances,” Minister of Information Labaran Maku said, adding that the strike is starting to damage the Nigerian education sector, reported the Osun Defender.
He said that some states might not be able to pay allowances on lecturers by the time the strike ends.
Maku also accused the All Progressives Congress of manipulating the strike.
“I know ASUU very well. ASUU went into the strike out of the conviction that they would get more resources for the universities but opportunists in the [Congress] who do not know that the umbrella is now standing on top of the APC symbols are trying to make gains out of it,” he said.
The All Progressives Congress, he added, “[are] trying to take advantage of the strike by pretending that they have something better to offer. But they have nothing to offer, nothing except criticism.”
The ASUU has been on strike since July, and the union has said that the federal government failed to honor a 2009 deal that would upgrade facilities and improve the welfare of lecturers.
Maku said that the the federal government has provided N200 billion for the upgrade and N65 billion for striking teachers.
“In every country in the world, there are challenges in the education sector, but these vary. You cannot address a 30-year-old problem in one moment,” he said.
This comes a day after the Bobboi Kaigama, the president of the Trade Union Congress, said the strike will end by Monday–a deadline set by the federal government.
“We will mediate and call back both parties to the negotiation table,” he said, reported the New Mail. “The good thing is that they are both committed to ending the strike.”
Kaigama said that leaders in the National Labor Congress are also taking part in the talks.
“Myself and my colleague from the NLC will ensure that this issue is quickly resolved. The most important thing is that both parties want a quick end to the strike. What is happening right now is as a result of a break in communication,” he said.