According to him, Government has met all the substantive issues in its recent discussions, as well as those in the 2009 agreement, referring particularly to the news about the N200 billion funds the government claimed to have paid into a Central Bank account.
Otubanjo was speaking from the Abuja studio of Channels Television while appearing as guest on the flagship breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.
He referred to the demands of the ASUU leadership for a proof of the payment as a product of bureaucratic procedure in the government but added that the ASUU also ought to have a mechanism with which they can confirm this payment, since the Central Bank is a public institution that they can liaise with through a representative.
Otubanjo, who is also a former member of the ASUU executive, added that all other issues like the 70 years retirement age for professors, earned allowances, university autonomy have also been met by the government and the controversies over confirming payments are “petty aspects of the strike”.
“Government has been very conciliatory, government has met its part, and ASUU knows that. Government will not say it has paid 200billion Naira when it has not paid. We must learn to know that government is more serious than a social club…Let us leave these little petty unionism matters and face the substantive issue of the closure of universities for 5 months”
The Professor of Political Science berated the ASUU leadership for denying students the right to be in school and creating a backlog for those in secondary schools who will have to “hang around for another year wasting away.”
“Those who ought to graduate to go and do service cannot do it, those who want to be doctors and do internship, everything is clogged up by this strike. So we cannot afford another day of strike based on the triviality of we want to know, we don’t want to know.”
Recalling his days as secretary of the union at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Otubanjo said that the alleged threat by the Federal Government should not be compared to what they experienced during the military era.
“Under Babangida, ASUU was proscribed, and members were on their own, so they went back to work. Abacha was not going to proscribe ASUU; he was going to close down universities.”
He posited that if the military administrations did not carry out any of those threats as ASUU resumed work, “government would not wish to sack the lecturers because it creates its own challenges and many difficulties. You cannot replace them easily; you cannot get a PHD overnight.”
He said “We should expect a pronouncement from the ASUU executives that the strike has been called off.” He concluded by reminding the ASUU that their demands for these monies also require them as a component of university administration to give assurances of efficient administration of funds that go to them.