The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, Wednesday disagreed with the concept of subsidy removal as championed by the Federal Government.
The University Don who alleged that the concept was riddled with insincerity and corrupt practices explained that Federal Government’s unwillingness to revamp the country’s refineries was a clear pointer to why the petroleum sector was benefiting the generality of Nigerians.
The ASUU boss stated this during the Maiden Public Lecture and Ground Breaking Ceremony of Alex Ekuweme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State, AE-FUNAI ASUU Branch’s Secretariat within the University community.
According to him, “Any country that doesn’t prioritize education is set for crisis; where we are today is because our leaders in the past 20 to 25 years had not taken education seriously and that’s why we are where we are today.
“We don’t believe there is fuel subsidy. You can’t be exporting crude oil for more than 70 years and still can’t refine a crude oil and sell to your people at the Nigerian rate, not at a dollar. Then, something is wrong.
“There is no subsidy. It’s not rocket science to build a refinery. They deliberately refused to maintain the ones they have. Meanwhile, people are being paid. Nigeria has made trillions of naira in the past three years or so on. They can’t renovate the refinery as none is working.
“Niger here and small other countries have functional refineries.”
Addressing newsmen after delivering a Lecture titled “Reinvesting Nigerian Universities for Research and Development: The ASUU perspective” Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, the immediate past President of ASUU called on the Federal Government to rethink its approach towards the Education sector.
“Engage, lecturers, engage stakeholders. We have several reports on ground that have not been implemented. ASUU was negotiating with the government on how to arrest brain drain, how to restore quality, and how to revamp the facility. We did it for more than six years, Dr. Chris Ngige aborted it.
“Now, there is a new government in place. We hope the new government will resuscitate the process so that we can put a closure to a process that has dragged for more than seven years.
“It’s never done. You engage people for six years, at the point of signing the agreement, you threw it overboard. It is anti-labour, it’s not a labour-friendly behaviour and when you can’t realize your dream, you fight with your feet.
“So, we have an environment that is hostile to workers, hostile to intellectuals, not friendly even to students. So, everybody is on the edge; the policies are unfriendly, the income is unsustainable, and the environment is dilapidating.
“This is a university; will you take this as a University, compare to University in another country? Go to Tanzania, go to South Africa, a University environment will not look like this and you want to produce world-class graduates. So, we need to rethink our approach to education.”
By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki