Elder Statesman Edwin Clark said there was need for the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to take over negotiations regarding the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ strike.
The elder statesman, who said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, said Adamu was in a better position to arrive at a reasonable agreement with ASUU.
He said education matters ought to be handled by someone who appreciates the effect of the strike, adding that it was affecting every fabric of the economy.
According to him, besides the long-term effect, the strike has distorted school calendar, increased crime rate, impoverished communities that make a living from schools, among other things.
“The Federal Ministry of Education should take over negotiation from labour because the labour ministry is treating ASUU case like any other industrial matter.
“ASUU is not fighting for their personal interest alone. I learnt it is only now they are including the review of their own salary, otherwise the 2009 agreement they are talking about is for infrastructure development.
“In every country, education is number one on the list. Once the people are educated, other sectors of the economy will have fewer challenges.
“The Accountant-General, who was supposed to have generated this payment, is alleged to have embezzled N80 billion.
“That is about half of what ASUU is demanding for to largely develop our education system.
“ASUU is demanding for about N200 billion, that is not too much to fix a critical sector like education,’’ he said.
On 2023 general election, the elder statesman said there might be voter apathy as experienced in previous elections.
He called for increased sensitisation and reorientation to get Nigerians to turn up for the forthcoming elections.
“Voter apathy is caused by the negative events that characterise our elections in Nigeria.
“The cases of ballot box snatching, killings, courts deciding the result of elections and some of our politicians not fulfilling their campaign promises have made some Nigerians to lose hope in our electoral process.
“These factors have made our governors, for instance, not to owe their coming to power to any voter and they are now more dictatorial than the military.
“They lord it over us, they act anyhow, they have no character and have no regard for their traditional rulers, and unfortunately some of them now want to become president,’’ he said.
On zoning, Clark said it was time to allow the South-East have a taste of power at the highest level in the country.
“I am the leader of Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Leaders Forum. I am also the leader of Pan Nigerian Forum (PANDEF).
“We have made our position very clear, that we will mobilise our people not to vote for any party that does not zone its presidency to the South.
“The South-East is entitled to any position they are qualified for like any other Nigerian,” he said.