The Federal Government has declared war against university lecturers using the biting hunger over COVID-19, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has said.
The union said if the government used the decisiveness and determination with which it was addressing the current health sector crisis, the ongoing strike would not last long.
Punch correspondent reported that the warning strike by ASUU snowballed into a full blown strike on March 23, 2020.
Nigerians have been complaining of hunger and hardship occasioned by the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview with Sunday Punch, said if the government used same determination and commitment to address the problem in the education sector, the strike would not linger at all after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
He said, “The government has compounded the issue. In the last two months, our members in the federal universities have not been paid. You withheld people’s salaries and think such people would gladly go back?
“At a time you’re talking of palliatives, you are denying thousands of families their sources of livelihood and you think you’re solving a problem, you’ve declared war against your intellectuals.’’
“So, it’s like the government of the day has declared war against ASUU and members. Nobody is talking of the welfare of these families that have been thrown into disarray in the face of lockdo wn. People are helpless and can’t go anywhere, and you’re using hunger as a weapon of war against them, it is genocide.
“We believe that now that there is emergency in the health sector, there is also an emergency in the education sector. So when we finish with the health sector, we will come back to the education sector. But if we had told them that there was no problem, it means that everybody can go to sleep after addressing the emergency in the health sector.
“So we have put it on the table so that government, parents and all other stakeholders, including our students, would know that after solving the current issue in the health sector, we should also come together and address the problem in the education sector. So that is the sense in that strike action.
- “Returning to class is not a big issue at all given the decisiveness and determination with which we address the current health sector crisis.”