Akin Akande, Abuja
Fears of more crises in the education sector heightened on Monday as the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), on Monday ignored a peace meeting called by the Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, to possibly avert a planned solidarity strike.
The NUT last week threatened a solidarity strike with members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), unless the Federal Government could reach an agreement with the university lecturers within seven days.
But Barrister Wike said that the meeting would hold on Wednesday even as he wondered why NUT would embark on such strike.
According to NUT President Michael Olukoya, who announced union’s position after the NEC meeting in Abuja, the strike by ASUU could best be described as truly nationalistic, patriotic and self-sacrificing.
He mentioned at the NEC that NUT would not hesitate to solidarise with ASUU if the Federal Government failed to honour the existing agreement reached with them in 2009.
“We call on the Federal Government to demonstrate responsiveness and similar patriotism by acceding to the demands of ASUU, which we consider reasonable, just and fair,” he said after the Abuja NEC meeting.
This development it was gathered prompted the Supervisory Minister of Education to schedule a meeting with the leadership of NUT for Monday.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on Sunday at a Presidential media chat lamented that despite offers being made by his administration to the striking lecturers, the strike appears to have been politicized.
He said ASUU ought to have been placated with the offer of N100 billion injected into the system to boost infrastructure, while negotiations on the remaining issues continues.
The President had said: “In the past, they did not go this far when strikes were called off; but now politics has gone into everything. Throughout this time, no government has taken inventory of all the problems in federal and state universities.
“We said this must change. But it cannot change overnight. So for ASUU to go on strike over infrastructure, they need to understand that we are serious about intervening starting with N100 billion.
“Even if we have all the money in the world we cannot change things overnight”.
However, efforts by our correspondent to reach the ASUU President, Isa Fagge, to get his reaction on the proposed solidarity strike by NUT proved abortive as he did not respond to calls put through to him.