Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the clash of interests between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government is unending.
He noted that his administration had issues with the union despite his efforts to satisfy lecturers in the country.
Obasanjo spoke as a panellist at the National Summit on Tertiary Education Reform organised by the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a two-day event that commenced in Abuja on Tuesday.
He commended the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, for intervening in the crisis between the union and the government and ASUU, which led to the suspension of the eight-month strike by university lecturers.
He said, “Tertiary education is important, but my emphasis will be on education broadly because the five points that I have taken from your speech – a brilliant speech you have made – are based on education in general, though we have the issue of ASUU and the government, and that will be unending…In my time, we had it. And if any government had done anything for ASUU, my government did. They all started buying cars and building houses. Even primary school teachers started buying cars. They called it ‘Gbemu Aremu.’ We must find a solution.”
The ex-president also said Nigeria must educate the 20 million children that were out of school to avert creating another set of Boko Haram terrorists.
He said, “Those 20 million children that are out of school, we can get them back to school. If we don’t get them back to school, we are preparing for Boko Haram of tomorrow and nobody needs to tell you anything about that. It will happen. As sure as daylight, it will happen.”
The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, described education as the silver bullet that could eliminate poverty and lack.
He said, “Allow me this morning to speak the truth as I see it, so that together we can agree on what we need to do to overcome. Time was when the tertiary institutions in our country were centres of excellence, comparable to the best institutions elsewhere in the world. There was a time when our brothers and sisters from across Africa and even farther away sought out our institutions, and we welcomed them in droves. That time is no more.”