In the face of lingering industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has denied getting a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the protracted strike in two weeks.
During the weekly Ministerial Briefing on Thursday in Abuja, the minister told State House Correspondents that the President instead told him to resolve the issues within the shortest possible time, contrary to what the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, told the media.
He insisted that he will not succumb to ASUU’s demand for their members to be paid the backlog of salaries withheld within the period of six months that they were on strike, noting that it is the penalty for their action.
The minister also disclosed that five of the university-based unions will likely call off their strike within the next one week while that of ASUU remains uncertain.
Adamu argued that in spite of the N2.5 trillion expended on education by President Buhari’s administration through the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) as well as Universal Basic Education (UBEC), surpassing the N1.2 trillion demanded by ASUU, lecturers have maintained their position to embark on a needless strike.
However, he, noted that ASUU had begun consultations with their members to determine whether to call off their strike as well.
The minister also faulted figures by UNICEF as well as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs pegging the number of out-of-school children at 10.5 million.
According to him, that figure has since 2020 declined to 6.9 million.
This is as he said the government has further recorded impressive enrollment in the last year, particularly in frontline states such as Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Rivers, and Ebonyi states.
The minister equally added that the attitude of Northern governors depicts that they are trying to destroy the primary school education system, except for a few, no governor can boast of a sound primary education in their states.
According to him, lack of cooperation from states has crippled his ability to intervene as minister to help states rescue primary schools as it will amount to nothing if the foundation of the education system is already rotten.