Federal Government says issues around the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and three other university based unions are more complex than the way Nigerians see to them.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Wednesday while addressing State House reporters on the outcome of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister also announced FEC’s approval of the establishment of e-learning centres for primary schools in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
ASUU members had downed tools and embarked on strike on February 14, 2022, over some unresolved issues with the Federal Government.
Three other university-based unions – the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) as well as the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) – also joined ASUU, accusing government of being insensitive to their demands.
Explaining the rationale behind the FEC approval given to the establishment of e-learning centres at a time the government had been unable to resolve problems with unions in the public universities to enable the students to return to classes, said the issues with the unions were not as simple as many people thought.
The minister said government was equally worried over the long closure of public universities and was making frantic efforts to ensure the resolution of all the contentious issues.
Mohammed, who briefed State House reporters on behalf of the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said, “And then the other question has to do with the with ASUU strike. I think if I remember this e-learning, I think has to do more with primary schools and not universities.
“And I don’t think because we’re having challenges with the university lectures, we should stop primary school students in continuing with their education. And I wish that the ASUU issue is as simple as many of us think it is. I don’t think it’s that simple. But I want to assure you that a lot is going on behind the scenes.
“And I think probably the Minister of Education will be better positioned to give the details. But like any government, if we’re not concerned, we would not set up all the committees which have been working on. If we are not concerned, we will not be looking for means to even assuage the feelings of the Union.
“We’re worried, we’re concerned, and we’ll continue to work towards finding an early resolution of the problem.”
Concerning the approval of the centres by FEC, Mohammed said, “The Honourable Minister of Education has sought approval from Council for the award of contracts for the provision of a satellite- based education system for 109 e-learning centers across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The contract was for the sum of N964 million and is in favour of Messrs Nas Navigation. The purpose of the memo is to provide each senatorial district in the country with e-learning provision, each states has three senatorial districts and the FCT has one senatorial district
“The scope of the project is the provision of satellite based education system for about 4,360 users in the 109 senatorial districts and it was through the installation of 109 receiver satellite unit model antenna in three schools in each state.
“Installation and provision of 109 vast mile server in three schools in each state connecting up to 100 device installation of 109 server units for receiver terminals and deployment of 4,360 Android tablets.”