Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, on Friday, told Nigerian parents to beg the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end its months-long strike, claiming that borrowing money to meet the demands of the striking lecturers was unrealistic.
Mr Keyamo, speaking on Channels TV on Friday, said the country cannot come to a halt trying to meet the demands of the striking lecturers.
“Like the President said the other time, those who know them, appeal to their sense of patriotism,” he said.
“Let them go back to classes. They are not the only one in Nigeria. They are not the only ones feeding from the federal purse. The nation cannot grind to a halt because we want to take care of the demands of ASUU,” he added
Mr. Keyamo continued to reject the ASUU’s proposal by asserting that the government cannot devote so much money to education at the expense of other crucial aspects of the economy.
“Should we go and borrow to pay N1.2 trillion yearly? You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion. And you have roads to build, health centres to build, other sectors to take care of.”
ASUU started a four-week warning strike on February 14. The union voted to extend the industrial action by an additional two months on March 14 to allow the administration enough time to accomplish all of its goals. After being granted a 12-week extension on May 9, the union has been on strike ever since and has vowed to continue until its demands are met.
Among other demands, the academics want better welfare, the revitalization of public universities, and academic autonomy.
The non-payment of university revitalization funds, which total roughly N1.1 trillion, is one point of discontent among academics.
However the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government as failed to meet the demands of the striking lectures, further dashing the hopes of students who have been kept idle at home for over six months.