The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, came under heavy criticisms on Wednesday over her remarks that the Federal Government cannot meet the demands of striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
She had said the N92bn being demanded by the university lecturers was not within FG’s reach.
But Nigerian university students and their parents, who took to various social networking sites, expressed concern over the development and said that her statement had dashed their hopes of a speedy resolution of the face-off.
They accused Okonjo-Iweala of demonstrating a lukewarm attitude to the ongoing industrial action because she and her children had their university education overseas.
They lamented that it was unfortunate if Okonjo-Iweala, with her level of education, could not advise and convince the FG to devote N92bn to education. According to them, building the foreign reserve amounts to a fruitless effort without adequately taking care of the future of Nigerian youths.
A reader on punchng.com with the name, Truth, described Okonjo-Iweala’s comment as selfish.
The reader wrote, “Can somebody ask madam Minister of Finance where she and her children schooled? According to research, they all schooled in Harvard. So, why not Nigerian universities?
“She is here telling us government cannot meet ASUU’s N92bn demand, but she and her cohorts can spend such on their children to get quality education abroad. As we all know, change is the most constant thing in life, which would definitely come one day here in Nigeria and posterity would definitely judge everyone sooner or later.
“I tend to wonder when people say Nigerian graduates are unemployable, as we all forget that one cannot have his cake and eat it. A clear case of putting the square peg in a round hole.’’
One Olalere Sarafa stressed on Facebook that he’s not taking Okonjo-Iweala’s argument seriously because the FG has yet to set its priorities right.
According to him, the FG is culpable of financial recklessness based on the manner the country is being run and the recent move to purchase two additional helicopters and expand the Presidential fleet at the public expense.
“The FG cannot spend money on education but Okonjo-Iweala and her boss (President Goodluck Jonathan) can spend money to maintain 10 aircraft for the President, with billions of naira per annum and still seek for billions to buy two additional helicopters in the 2013 budget,’’ Sarafa wrote.
Also on Facebook, Ashom Abraham-Isha said it was important for the FG to do everything possible to “bail out’’ the education sector, just as it did to some sectors of the economy in the past.
“I believe N92bn is not anything for FG to complain about. Trillions of naira was spent to bail out the banking sector, the same with aviation sector, the same with 2011 general elections, the same with agriculture, etc. I think it is time for all Nigerian students to come out for a massive protest against these corrupt leaders that are insensitive to education,’’ Abraham-Isha stated.
But as many Nigerian university students urge themselves to learn one trade, vocation or the other because of the possibility of the strike being prolonged, some Nigerians have urged ASUU to also be flexible in their approach in the interest of students.
One Gboyega Olatunji wrote, “N92bn is too much now! Let us be considerate for a while, if they can at least meet between 70 and 80 per cent of your demands, consider the poor students at home. We beg ASUU in name of God. Please, shift ground.’’
Priscillia Aloysius-Ikeme, commenting on Facebook, said “ASUU, we are begging you guys for the sake of the poor masses who can’t afford to train their children overseas. If you observe the situation closely, you will realise that the children of the Finance Minister, her colleagues and members of the National Assembly are not here. So, they may be less concerned.’’
SOURCE: Punch Newspapers