Former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Sule Kano, has accused the National Universities Commission (NUC) of causing the current strike that has paralysed activities in public universities.
Kano, who spoke exclusively to Blueprint at the weekend, was responding to a statement credited to NUC’s Executive Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie, who had accused the ASUU of “pure betrayal and display of showmanship”, for embarking on the current strike. The former ASUU boss said: “The immediate cause of this crisis (strike) is the NUC. It is responsible because of its role in handling the resolution reached by ASUU and the federal government.
“That document was supposed to be forwarded to the government, through the minister of education, via the SGF, who has shown a very keen interest in resolving the problem. This was sabotaged by the NUC. “But Okojie said the document had ‘disappeared’. That was his exact word, ‘disappeared’. The document that took the FG/ASUU implementation committee more than a year to come up with, disappeared in the NUC.
“Neither the minister of education nor the Secretary to the Government of the Federation could see the document for a very long time. Meanwhile, the union was becoming increasingly impatient. That is the immediate cause of the problem.” He said Okojie had earlier denied that he was part of the process that produced the memorandum of understanding between the lecturers and the government, describing Okojie’s action as ‘dubious’ and meant to frustrate the work of the committee.
“As regards the MOU we signed with government, the position of the NUC was very dubious,” he said. Continuing, he pointed out: “After we signed the agreement, Okojie told Nigerians that he was not in the know. But we confronted him in one of our meetings with fact.
“But he was part and parcel of the process that produced the MOU. We had to fight to put him in order. “So you can see why the ASUU is angry with NUC. You can see why we say the NUC is responsible for the crisis.” Kano blamed the NUC for the rot in the university system, saying that it has deviated from its mandate. He added: “The NUC cover up the rot in the system so that the government will not know. The only time the realities in the universities were completely unveiled to the government was when the NEEDS assessment report was published, after a good job by Prof Mahmood Yakubu.
“Study that report and compare to the mandate of the NUC that is supposed to be the vanguard of development of Nigerian universities. “In fact, the government was so angry after seeing that some people were saying that he (Okojie) should be removed. People said he has been deceiving them.
“So is it this man that will come and tell Nigerians that ASUU betrayed the government? Okojie is the one who has betrayed this country by not playing the role he was appointed to play.” Okojie was last Wednesday quoted as saying that the union was blackmailing the government and had “displayed lack of decorum in handling such a sensitive matter like strike”.