University of Benin branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) has condemned the federal government for what it described as its assault on Nigerian intellectuals.
Addressing a Press Briefing in its Secretariat Complex, Ray Chikogu, the Chairman of the branch, said “the recent move to criminalize a strike action validly and justifiably called to challenge government’s systematic destruction of the Nigerian University System by the withholding of the salaries of university intellectuals for the months of March – September 2022, and the more recent nauseating payment of October 2022 salaries to academic staff on a prorated basis as if intellectualism is a menial job and intellectuals engaged in research and the pursuit of knowledge, are unskilled and casual labourers.”
Going further, he said, “this atrocious course of action by the federal government is clearly borne out of unpatriotic and selfish intent, without any consideration for the growth and development needs of this nation.
“In the end, the federal government is seeking to abdicate its responsibility towards the provision of free, quality and accessible education to ordinary Nigerians, against the dictates of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The intention in the medium term is to hike fees and charges and price access to quality university education out of the reach of the children of ordinary Nigerians through the trumpeting of the unscrupulous claim that the federal government cannot continue to fund public university education in the same country in which an unproductive NNPC, with General Muhammadu Buhari as Petroleum Minister, expended N33bn on entertainment and telephone calls alone between 2020 and 2021 respectively, spent N648.6bn and N788.7bn as administrative costs in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and is yet to remit a dime in 2022 into the Federation Account for the benefit of State and Local Governments.
“In the long term, public universities in Nigeria will be completely destroyed and only the children of thieving politicians will benefit from university education either in local private institutions or foreign universities, all of these from the sweat of Nigerian workers and the proceeds of our common patrimony.
“Ultimately, our children will be uneducated and unenlightened and they will perpetuate their lordship over our generations through their children. The current onslaught against intellectuals is aimed at demoralizing the workforce in the universities, and preparing the grounds for the eventual destruction of the system.”