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A former Minister of Education, Dr Oby
Ezekwesili, on Sunday said that the demands the Academic Staff Union
of Universities (ASUU) were unrealistic in light of the current economic
situation in Nigeria.

Ezekwesili said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria
(NAN) in Ibadan while reacting to the ongoing strike embarked upon by
the union.

The former minister said that lasting solution to the crisis
bedevilling the education sector could only be found from strong
analysis of the issues raised ASUU and evidenced based policies.

“Money is not limitless and yet everyone must acknowledge that investment in education is crucial and it is key.

“There are, however, some fundamental reforms that the sector needs
in order to ensure that it is not about the size of the funding but
about the productivity of the funding.

“You cannot simply express a desire, it must be founded on reality
and that means you must know what can be achieved within a given
period,” she said.

According to her, a structural and policy change which allows public
and private investments should be integrated into the university system.

“If you remember, the ASUU negotiation started in 2007 when I was the
Minister of Education and we constituted a government negotiation team,
led the late Gamaliel Onosode,

“Even though that period was short, one of the major issues for me
was for us to make sure that we were being evidenced based in the way we
were solving the problem,

“We considered issues like the existing model in countries similar to us in emerging economies,’’ she said.

The former minister said the team also considered what could be done
the public and private sectors about university funding among others.

“Those are the kinds of evidence that we had and on the basis of which we hinged our negotiation at that time,

“It was a very short period and then we had to leave and the next government that took over had to continue.

“I do not know the basis of the final agreement they reached with
ASSUU, but if it was not anchored on analytical evidence, I am not
surprised that there has been inability to implement it.”

Ezekwesili urged both the Federal Government and ASUU to return to
the negotiating table and work on the basis of analysis and evidence to
find lasting solution to the dispute.

NAN reports that ASUU on Aug. 14, embarked on an indefinite strike to
press home its demands for the implementation of an agreement signed
between it and the Federal Government on condition of service.

ASUU is also asking for increased funding of university, autonomy of the institution and academic freedom

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