The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has rated President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration low in the area of education saying it has failed to turn the sector around in the last four years.
National president of the union, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi said although there were some kind of commitment to education on the part of Buhari and his team, they however lacked the political will to implement the policies.
Ogunyemi on his assessment of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government in the last four years said, “We saw some kind of commitment to education but the political will to see it through was not fully demonstrated. If you take budgetary allocation to education, it has been the lowest in recent times and for a government that actually plans to bring about meaningful change in the country, education should have been number one priority. With education, you can address insecurity, fix the economy and battle corruption.”
“I said some semblance of commitment were pronounced because in November 2017, the minister of education said Nigeria was the only country in the region voting less than 20 per cent to education, in its annual budget but we have not seen that demonstrated, why? There was a national workshop on sustainable funding of education in November last year at the state house where it was adopted that at least 15 per cent of the budget be given to education but that has not also been reflected. Fifteen per cent is also what the APC manifesto talked about, why was it not reflected in this year’s budget for instance? That was why we said there’s a lack of political will to see through what looks like commitment to education and until government does this, we will not agree that it is committed to using education to address Nigeria’s problems.”
On the highpoint of the administration in the sector, Prof Ogunyemi identified policy engagement and its demonstration to commit at least 15 per cent budgetary allocation to the sector.
“I’m aware the minister of education has written a proposal to the president, if he can approve that, it will be a major landmark in efforts to reposition Nigerian education.
“Another highpoint was that decision they took some few months back to deduct directly what state governments should have brought forward as counterpart funding for Universal Basic Education (UBE). Federal Government was to release two percent into UBEC fund while state governments were expected to give matching grants but many state governors have failed in the last five years and the fund was piling up while our primary and secondary schools were going into rot and decay. So if the Federal Government has taken a decision to deduct from the Paris Fund before releasing same to state governors, it is a welcome development and a bold step. With this development, we will see a significant change in our public primary and secondary schools, Ogunyemi added.
To improve the quality of life of Nigerians, the ASUU chief tasked Buhari to give education and health utmost priority.
He said, ” It appears successive governments have not been able to free themselves from the stranglehold of these foreign interests, we are saying that if we want to have the needed transformation in the sector, we must have a renewed approach. Government should prioritise education, we will see significant changes in the lives of Nigerians and our problems would be addressed.