25 July 2009

Nigeria: Yar,Adua, Egwu, Akunyili Problems of Nigerian Varsities -ASUU Leader

calabar/ lagos — Chairman of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Chike Ekeokpara has accused President Umaru Yar,Adua, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan; Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, his Information and Communications counterpart, Prof. Dora Akunyili of contributing to the current problems facing Nigerian universities.

Ekeopkara said they have done so by abandoning the teaching profession in preference of politics.

"I don,t like the idea of the minister of education, minister of labour or even Prof. Akunyili talking about the university system they don,t know. I think they have lost out with the development in the university system, they have been drained, and they are part of the brain drain problem that we are trying to fix. They are part of the problem."

"Egwu and Akunyili were lecturers, Egwu left as a lecturer I, Akunyili got her professorship outside the university compound so if they are now in government and they feel because they have the opportunity of being in government that they would deride those of us who have remained behind here to salvage the system in the university, it is most unfortunate and regrettable" Ekeokpara told journalists in Calabar.

Ekeopara, said comments made by the Federal Government over the strike were unfortunate as its agents such as Egwu and Akunyili have abandoned the real issues in pursuit of shadows such as the issue of 40 per cent increase in salaries.

Ekeopara said: "It is very unfortunate if the Federal Government has decided to abandon the real issues and decided to chase shadows. It is unfortunate in the sense that the struggle for which ASUU embarked on now, the struggle for which ASUU is fighting; that is to reverse the dangerous trend in our universities is a legitimate and patriotic struggle."

"It should not be reduced to the level of chasing shadows to begin to talk about salaries or no work no pay. No work, no pay by the way is an old strategy that government employs because they know they don,t have any other reason, they don,t have what it takes, they don,t have the political will to reverse the dangerous trends in the universities."

"ASUU is more patriotic than those elements in government who are talking about no work no pay. By the way, we survive whether they pay salaries or not that is not what we are after, we will continue this strike until that agreement is signed. The major demand for ASUU is that government should sign the agreement it reached with the union in December 2008 and that is our stand" Ekeokpara said.

Meanwhile, as the ASUU strike braces up for week five, the Federal Government has been charged to do something fast to salvage the educational system in the nation or risk a chaos society.

This was the advice of the Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev. Msgr. Bernard Okodua, during the 40th anniversary and valedictory/graduation ceremony of 61 students of Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School.

According to Okodua, the Federal Government should take the educational system more seriously as the future of the nation,s progress or retrogression depends on the quality of education, warning that otherwise, the nation may have to contend with a society characterised by chaos.

He added that as much as education is a collective responsibility, the government poses as the father who should shoulder these responsibilities of providing qualitative educational facilities for the citizens for the sake of the progress of the nation.

The cleric also urged the Federal Government to see religious schools and organisations as partners in the provision of social services to the people.

"Missions and private individuals providing social services like education and health care facilities for the public are only partnering with the government and not competing with them."

"The government should therefore grant such organisations and individuals the enabling environment to thrive and continue to assist the former in reducing its burdens" he appealed.

Chairperson of the occasion, Mrs. Gloria Osezua in her speech congratulated the school management the anniversary.

While charging the graduating students to be good ambassador of the school, she implored them to be more focused for the task ahead is much more complicated than the one they just completed.

"Do not be carried away with the victory you have today. Be more focused for the task ahead is more complicated and serious. Do not lose the good values that this great school has thought you. In the society where you will find yourselves, find your own voice and let that voice of yours be that of good value and righteousness. You are looking into the future and bear in mind that you are also part of that future" she charged.

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