By Cross Udo
The Federal Government yesterday said the issue concerning the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other three university-based unions is not as simple as people think.
This came just as the government approved the establishment of e-learning centres for primary schools across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Recall that ASUU embarked on strike on 14th of February, over unresolved issues with the federal government and since then, all the public universities have been shut down.
Besides, other university-based unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU as well as the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT have also withdrawn their services over the alleged government insensitivity to their demands.
Fielding question on why the government approved the establishment of e-learning centres but was unable to resolve problems with unions in the public universities for the students to go back to school, the Minister said the issue with the unions was not as simple as many may think.
He also said that the government was worried over the long closure of the public universities and was making frantic efforts to ensure that all the contentious issues are resolved.
Mohammed, who briefed on behalf of the Minister of Education said, “And then the other question has to do with the ASUU strike. I think if I remember this e-learning, I think has to do more with primary schools and not universities.
“And I don’t think because we’re having challenges with the university lectures, we should stop primary school students from continuing with their education.
“And I wish that the ASUU issue is as simple as many of us think it is. I don’t think it’s that simple. But I want to assure you that a lot is going on behind the scenes.
“And I think probably the Minister of Education will be better positioned to give the details. But like any government, if we’re not concerned, we would not set up all the committees which have been working on. If we are not concerned we will not be looking for means to even assuage the feelings of the Union.
“We’re worried we’re concerned, and we’ll continue to work towards finding an early resolution of the problem.”
On the approval by FEC, Alhaji said, “The Honourable Minister of Education has sought approval from Council for the award of contracts for the provision of a satellite-based education system for 109 e-learning centres across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
“The contract was for the sum of N964m and is in favour of Messrs Nas Navigation. The purpose of the memo is to provide each senatorial district in the country with e-learning provision, each state has three senatorial districts and the FCT has one senatorial district
“The scope of the project is the provision of a satellite-based education system for about 4,360 users in the 109 senatorial districts and it was through the installation of 109 receiver satellite unit model antenna in three schools in each state.
“Installation and provision of 109 vast mile server in three schools in each state connecting up to 100 device installation of 109 server units for receiver terminals and deployment of 4,360 Android tablets.”