The Federal Government said, yesterday, that the issue concerning the ongoing strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and three other university-based unions was not as simple as people think.
It also approved the establishment of e-learning centres for primary schools across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It would be recalled that ASUU embarked on strike February 14, over unresolved issues with the Federal Government and since then, all the public universities have been shut down.
Besides, other university-based unions, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU; Non-Academic Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU, as well as National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, have also withdrawn their services over the alleged government insensitivity to their demands.
Fielding questions on why government approved the establishment of e-learning centres but was unable to resolve problems with unions in the public universities for the students to go back to school, the minister said the issue with the unions was not as simple as many may thought.
He also said government was worried over the long closure of the public universities and was making frantic efforts to ensure that all the contentious issues were resolved.
Mohammed, who briefed on behalf of the Minister of Education, said: “Then the other question has to do with ASUU strike. I think if I remember this e-learning, it has to do more with primary schools and not universities.
“I don’t think because we’re having challenges with the university lectures, we should stop primary school students in continuing with their education.
“I wish that the ASUU issue is as simple as many of us think it is. I don’t think it’s that simple. But I want to assure you that a lot is going on behind the scenes.
“I think probably the Minister of Education will be better positioned to give the details. But like any government, if we’re not concerned, we would not set up all the committees, which have been working on. If we are not concerned we will not be looking for means to even assuage the feelings of the union.
“We’re worried, we’re concerned and we’ll continue to work towards finding an early resolution of the problem.
“The Minister of Education has sought approval from council for the award of contracts for the provision of a satellite-based education system for 109 e-learning centres across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The contract was for N964 million and is in favour of Messrs Nas Navigation. The purpose of the memo is to provide each senatorial district in the country with e-learning provision, each states has three senatorial districts and the FCT has one senatorial district
“The scope of the project is the provision of satellite-based education system for about 4,360 users in the 109 senatorial districts and it was through the installation of 109 receiver satellite unit model antenna in three schools in each state.
“Installation and provision of 109 vast mile server in three schools in each state connecting up to 100 device installation of 109 server units for receiver terminals and deployment of 4,360 Android tablets.”