The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu has denied claims alleging that he got a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to settle in two weeks, the lingering industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The minister, a the weekly Ministerial Briefing on Thursday in Abuja told reporters that Buhari told him to resolve the issues within the shortest possible time as opposed to what the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, told the media.
Adamu argued that he will not surrender 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, pointing out that it is the penalty for their action.
Also, the minister announced that five of the university-based unions will likely call off their strike within the next one week while that of ASUU seems unlikely.
The minister bemoaned the lecturers’ stance to undertake a needless strike despite the N2.5 trillion disbursed on education by Buhari’s government through the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) as well as Universal Basic Education (UBEC), surpassing the N1.2 trillion demanded by ASUU.
However, Adamu remarked that ASUU had commenced conferences with their members to decide whether to call off their strike as well.
Also, the minister criticized figures by UNICEF as well as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs pegging the number of out-of-school children at 10.5 million. The figure has since 2020 waned to 6.9 million, he argued.
According to him, the government has documented outstanding enrollment in the last year, especially in frontline states such as Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Rivers, and Ebonyi states.
He also denounced the attitude of the Northern governors, which according to him, implies that they are trying to undermine the primary school education system, except for a few, no governor can brag of a sound primary education in their states.
He said lack of teamwork amongst states has maimed his ability to interfere as minister to assist states rescue primary schools as it will amount to nothing if the foundation of the education system is already dead.