Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has said some “saboteurs” within the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari were responsible for the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Mr Bello stated this on Wednesday when he appeared as a guest on “The Morning Show,” a programme on Arise TV.
The Nigerian public universities have been shut for more than seven months over unresolved issues around poor welfare and underfunding.
ASUU and the government are yet to reach a deal despite a series of meetings.
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The governor accused “saboteurs” of instigating the strike and expressed confidence that the “culprits” would be known as soon as the crisis was resolved.
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“I am deeply concerned about our children’s future that is being toyed with. I tackled the issue of strikes in the education sector in Kogi State and there is nothing such as strikes. Unfortunately, this is part of the saboteurs within this administration and outside,” he said.
Mr Bello, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, said the industrial action has been politicised by some “disgruntled elites.”
He said the government should have removed the “political aspects from ASUU” to solve the lingering industrial action.
“There are areas to be improved upon despite the efforts of saboteurs but the PMB administration is redressing these challenges. Also, we need to start scrutinising the statistics from organisations such as NBS because some of them engage in sabotage with their data. These elites also manipulate figures for their political aims,” the governor stated.
Following its inability to resolve the dispute with ASUU through negotiations, the Nigerian government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had taken the matter up at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Abuja, for resolution.
The court on Wednesday ordered ASUU to suspend the seven-month-old strike.
The union said it would appeal the ruling.
“Nigeria, not yet ready for subsidy removal”
The governor said he believes in petroleum subsidy removal, but that Nigeria was not yet ready for its removal at the moment.
“Today, removal of subsidy immediately in the manner that the public or some elites want us to remove the subsidy may not necessarily be very comfortable now, but in the end, the subsidy will have to be removed,” he said.
“I am not in any way supporting subsidy. I support that the subsidy should be removed completely – 100 per cent deregulation, but currently, I don’t think the situation will give us that latitude to remove it now,” Mr Bello added.
The Nigerian government had in January suspended the planned removal of the subsidy after the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress threatened to embark on mass protests.
The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, August, said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had given approval for a planned summit of the government, leadership of all political parties and relevant groups to discuss and agree on the removal of the petroleum subsidy.
No date has been fixed yet for the summit.
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