JUST when we thought that the eight month-long strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had ended, the Federal Government is still engaged in its immature, pointless and insensitive antics that could lead to the resumption of the strike.
The university teachers found that their October salaries had been slashed. A statement from the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, claimed that it was not a “half pay” as the lecturers had claimed but “pro-rata” payment, meaning that their October salaries only covered the 14 days they worked.
The issue of “no work, no pay” was one of the items that ASUU insisted must be dropped before they would call off the strike. The Federal Government had agreed to pay the eight-month arrears, so this matter of “pro-rata” payment argument is surprising, childish and disgusting. It should be obvious that this is capable of sending ASUU back on strike.
Why does the Labour Minister, Ngige, like to fish in troubled waters? He is a major reason why the ASUU strike and Labour matters got unnecessarily protracted. Ngige brings arrogance, nit-picking and selfish political trifles into a matter that concerns the future of the Nigerian youth. He once walked out on ASUU simply because they called on Nigerians no to vote his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2023, something a mature public servant would ignore and focus on solving the problem at hand.
Chris Ngige is one of Buhari’s ministers who cannot justify their two terms of eight years with positive contributions to the advancement of the sectors they were posted to. The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, was at least honest to himself when he publicly admitted failure, albeit, without taking the necessary step of resigning.
President Muhammadu Buhari must take the blame for keeping ministers who have proved unhelpful and unproductive, perhaps due to personal or partisan factors.
Having endured the stigma of inability to end the ASUU strike for eight months, it is shocking that the president allowed the Labour Minister to ask the Accountant-General of the Federation to pay the controversial October salary on pro-rata basis. Where was leadership in this matter?
Government office occupants feel they can toy with the destinies of the children of the common man just because they have free access to the public treasury and are able to educate their children in expensive schools at home and abroad.
They proudly attend their children’s matriculation and graduation ceremonies even while our decrepit public universities are closed due to strikes.
Whatever they are unable to fix at home they and their families fly abroad to enjoy. Should ASUU go back on strike due to this insensitive and callous stance, the Federal Government must bear full responsibility for it.