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“Okonjo-Iweala is Not the Issue” – Minister’s Office tackles Smear Campaign on ASUU Strike

BellaNaija.com

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NU-STRIKE 001 BNWith the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike wrecking havoc all over Nigeria, fingers are being pointed on who is to blame. Over the last few days, pamphlets have been distributed in Northern Nigeria including accusatory statements directed at the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala role in the ASUU strike.
The Minister’s office has released the following statement to clarify its position.

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Contrary to some recent media reports, the Federal government has not adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach in its negotiations with ASUU. Rather, the approach is focused on positive engagement and achieving sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in the country. That is why President Goodluck Jonathan recently appealed to ASUU to respond to government’s positive steps by calling off its strike in the interest of suffering students and parents.

Despite this, for several days now, some elements in ASUU have been distributing pamphlets and flyers with abusive and inflammatory messages against the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in mosques and other places. This is taking academic unionism to a new low and infusing it with unnecessary politics. I am sure majority of ASUU members are not in support of this.

These messages are directed at using falsehood to demonize the Minister as callous and unsympathetic to the plight of students and parents. The major lie being peddled in the pamphlets and flyers is that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has insisted on a “take-it-or-leave-it approach” in the negotiations with ASUU. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the daughter of two retired professors and her father is presently a member of ASUU’s Board of Trustees and has been one for a long time. She speaks with her father everyday on the issue so how can be insensitive to issues concerning the sad state of tertiary education in the country? She understands and sympathizes with the plight of both students and lecturers. She wants our children back in school as soon as possible. Remember she is a mother and two of her young relatives are sitting at home due to the strike.

This is why government is working hard, under the leadership of the President, to seek practical and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in Nigeria. The President has made available N100 billion a year in the first instance to repair hostels, laboratories and classrooms and other facilities. An offer has also been made to ASUU of N30 billion towards their earned allowances. In fact, negotiations have even gone further than this. This is the first time, in years of negotiating with government, that significant sums of money have been put on the table for ASUU and universities on this particular set of issues. The Coordinating Minister is fully part of this.

Against this background, ASUU elements who want the strike to continue should have a heart and rethink their current take-it-or-leave-it approach to negotiation. Government has demonstrated its commitment to improving the university system. And it is even ready to do much more going forward. ASUU should listen to the voice of reason and the yearnings of Nigerians on this issue.

Paul C Nwabuikwu
Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister and Minister of Finance

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7 Comments

  1. Gistyinka Blog

    October 22, 2013 at 9:20 am

    God bless nigeria..

  2. Chinma Eke

    October 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

    What’s the voice of reason? FGN cannot afford to fund education, but can provide funds for NCAA(or whatever they are called) and the federal ministry of aviation to buy amoured cars?

  3. [email protected]

    October 22, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Please Mrs Okjo iweal go nolu odi!! Shebi you go harvard
    can you compere the system you went to school with what we call an
    educational institute in this country fG willingly signed an
    agreenment honour it or better still sign a suplimentary budget and
    stop playin politics with education . Its easy for the millions to
    roll out when bullet proof cars are bought for minister but not for
    a national disaster called. Eduction sector. The only 2 things that
    uncle Jona will do to get reelected is to deal with ASUU and POWER
    and me I will vote for him

  4. nene

    October 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    she is THE problem! she’s giving our money away to pay off our debts and we are suffering because of it.

    • dany

      October 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      How is she the problem? Can you realise that ASuu is part of the problem we have in Nigeria? They are looking for a scape goat. Iweala should not be the goat here.

  5. ides of march

    October 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    When will this government realize that Nigeria is a powder keg and they keep trying to light the match?! I’ve never seen a more myopic administration like the Nigerian government, at this rate they’ll only stop when we’re all dead!

  6. NNENNE

    October 23, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Let us all take a good look at ourselves and leave Iweala
    alone.The govt., the lecturers we need to work for our people. Will
    the money be managed well when delivered? Will the lecturers teach
    well or will bonanza promotions continue?

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