The University Academic Staff Union, ASUU, blamed Labor and Employment Minister Chris Ngige for the prolonged strike, accusing him of showing what it called “disdain for Nigerian academics.”
The union said it was obvious that Ngige, through his recent remarks, had clearly shown his disdain for the speakers and had not played the role of an impartial referee in moderating the mess.
“Now he has become the spokesman for the Federation Accountant General and the Ministry of Finance, rather than finding a solution to get the professors back to work,” ASUU told a press conference at Abuja University on Tuesday, He added that the minister was rolling back the wheel of progress.
ASUU, in the press conference text read by its Abuja area coordinator Theophilus Lagi, accused Ngige of putting the union on a collision course with other lobbyists at the university, and is currently on the warpath with the teachers.
“In one of his mistake comedies, Ngige told the nation that striking professors had been paid their salaries to date when he knew that university professors were owed nine to six months’ wages without just cause. In another attack of treason, the Minister during a recent defense of the Budget in the National Assembly, while defending the existence of the University Autonomy Law, tried in vain to redefine its provisions, ”said the union.
“Dr. Ngige is, by now, a figure well known for his poignant penchant for speaking with both sides of his mouth.
“This is demonstrated by their irregular positions in the ongoing negotiation between the federal government and our union which, to say the least, betrays their insincerity and irresponsibility as designated by the federal government.”
ASUU said that Ngige has been saying one thing during meetings with the union and another thing during media interviews.
The union said the minister’s attitude to the ongoing strike should be of concern to students and parents.
According to ASUU, with the former Anambra state governor in charge of negotiations between the union and the federal government, there are no signs of hope in sight, adding that the minister is undermining the reopening of public universities in the country.