A former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has said the demands by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were unrealistic in light of Nigeria’s economic situation.
Ezekwesili spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan while reacting to the ongoing strike embarked upon by the union.
The former minster said lasting solution to the crisis bedevilling the education sector could only be found from strong analysis of the issues raised by 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 by 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 by 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.”
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.
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