The federal government on Monday said it does not have the financial power at the moment to meet the demands of the Academy Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this while addressing journalists in Abuja.
He noted that the crash in the prices of oil globally has affected the economic fortunes and other sectors of Nigeria, including education.
The government also accused the administration of late president, Umaru Yar’Adua, of making bogus promises to the union during a period of oil boom.
“Let me begin by saying that the issues necessitating this strike date back to 2009 when the then government of late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua signed an agreement with the ASUU on funding of the federal universities in the country.
“The agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3 trillion over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing the oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that government will be able to meet the terms of agreement.
“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years thereby throwing the country into economic hardship. At the inception of this administration, the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose-diving into recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education
“The country just exited recession and is beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices.
“If this trend continues, definitely, the education sector will also improve, in other words, the well-being of the education sector and any other sector of the country’s economy is a function of the international oil prices. This is the stack reality for now which all of us must acknowledge and accept.”
The minister appealed to ASUU to be mindful of the fact that other sectors of the economy were competing with similar financial needs.
“We must also be mindful that there are other sectors with similar competing needs, if our universities produce graduates, such graduates must work in other sectors of the economy which must also be supported by the government,” he added.
ASUU, on Monday, embarked on an indefinite strike over delays in implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the government agreed to in 2017, including to compel government to conclude the renegotiation of other agreements also collectively reached in 2009.