The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has urged members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to withdraw from the teaching profession and consider going into farming, emphasizing that, farmers are needed more in Nigeria.
Nwajiuba, who was speaking as a guest on ARISE NEWS Channel in Abuja, stated that the protracted ASUU strike was not embarked on the basis of the COVID-19 Pandemic, saying that the university lecturers might consider farming as an alternative, while insisting more farmers are needed in the country.
The Minister explained that the Federal Government has shown, noting that up till July 2020, all academic staff had been paid salaries, but agreed that the union has the right to express itself and make demands.
“ASUU is within its right as a union of lecturers. We didn’t start a strike with ASUU on the basis of COVID-19. ASUU was already on strike way before COVID-19, just before COVID-19, we shut down schools, they gave an indefinite strike. We are not in any contention with them.
“Government is actually not holding anyone to ransom. It says this is how I want to pay and it has to be through IPPIS. You can leave the employment. You can opt out of it and say ‘I no longer want to teach’. You can find other professions. What we need are probably more farmers.
“You cannot keep forcing your employer and tell him, ‘ I will like you to pay me my money through my pillow. Or I will like you to pay it through the mailbox’. ASUU has a lot of complaints and dissipation around it. that is legitimate but doesn’t mean you should force yourself on the man who has the money.”
On preparation for the reopening of schools, Nwajiuba said that some of the modalities that have been put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 will include afternoon classes in order to prevent overcrowding.
He said: “Some people may not believe what we are doing but we must continue to enforce that. You must continue to abide by the protocol. You must provide them. We don’t really care about how much inconvenience or convenient you think it is for your child to wear facemask. Obey the rules first. If we find out, you ‘re not following the rules, we will have to deal with somebody.”
It would be recalled that, ASUU had embarked on strike over the non-payment of salaries of their members who enroll in the federal government’s IPPIS, payroll software mandated for all public officials.
ASUU had rejected the federal government’s IPPIS, leading to suspension of the payment of their salary by the federal government.