WOLE BALOGIN, ADO EKITI
GOVERNOR of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has said his comments in Paris on the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was never meant to denigrate lecturers but rather to engage in constructive debate over issues bordering on the academic sector of the nation.
Governor Fayemi had come under attacks for allegedly making derogatory comments on lecturers, saying salaries of professors in the country are same, if not more than his, as a governor. Some section of ASUU, while reacting, have described his comment as gibberish, insisting that the Federal Government has yet to take adequate care of the university system funding.
But in a counter reaction by Fayemi yesterday, through his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, he said: “The attention if Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has been drawn to the vari- ous interpretations that some chapters of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has given to a recent press interview he granted in France, where he alluded to the fact that the union and indeed tertiary institutions have fared better under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
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“Unfortunately, the interview has been misconstrued as a direct comment on salaries of professors and undue meddling in the affairs of ASUU. Suffice it to say, however, that the thrust of the media interview was the need for honest debate on basic and tertiary education in the country.
“The reference to salaries of professors was only a light-hearted response to the question as to whether the governor thought university professors were well-paid. Also, contrary to the insinuations that the governor’s interview took place during the President’s interactive session with the Nigerian Community, the interview actually took place a day after the event.
“What Governor Fayemi did in the interview was an appraisal of the country’s educational system, while emphasising that the Buhari administration, more than the previous administrations, had made substantial investment in the sector, which must be acknowledged,” he said.
Oyebode who provided excerpts of the interview in the press statement, insisted that Fayemi’s views, to all intent and purpose, was not an attempt to meddle in the affairs of the union as al- leged by some of its chapters. As someone who is from the university system, there is no way Dr. Fayemi can denigrate professors and the teaching profession.