- Earlier, the minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige officially declared interest in the nation's most exalted office, the presidency
- As the battle for Buhari's succession gets heated by the day, fresh questions are being raised on Ngige's declaration following the ASUU strike, even as the fate of Nigerian students hangs
- Meanwhile, the minister appealed earlier to the nation's educational body to return back to work for the sake of Nigerian students and consideration of FG's efforts
- More importantly, the minister was stunned over the cost of the APC presidential form billed at N100 million naira
As the struggle for the 2023 presidential ticket is gradually getting to the crescendo, Nigerians have in their various analyses looked critically at how individuals competing for the presidential ticket have contributed positively to the polity. This will ultimately form the base of their success or failure in their quest for the big seat.
Ngige declares amid ASUU strike
Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige had amid the ongoing struggle between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, declared his intention to contest for the nation's number one seat.
Ngige, who formally declared his intention on April 20, 2023 said there was a burning desire in him that yearned for a prosperous, united, and equitable nation.
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The labour minister also declared himself as a jack of all trades and master of all while projecting his experience in politics and governance.
But it's believed that failing to address the issue of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the ongoing universities' strike as the nation's labour minister, Ngige's declaration was ill-timed and may not garner the necessary support.
The genesis of ASUU strike
ASUU had embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14, 2022 over the failure of the Nigerian government to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the union.
The union also accused the government of failing to be committed to the payment of Academic Earned Allowance (EAA), and the use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System despite ASUU's rejection of the payment system, among other issues.
70 days plus of ASUU strike
It's now almost 3 months since universities students vacated campuses across the country, but the Nigerian government has continued to insist that it does not have, at the moment, the financial capacity to implement ASUU's demands, asking the union to call off the strike in the interest of Nigerian students.
Ngige’s position on ASUU strike
But Ngige, while faulting ASUU for opting for strike instead of employing other tactics like picketing, said he was not the education minister and there is a stretch he could go in the negotiation. He said this while addressing the Nimi Briggs-led renegotiation committee.
In what appeared like a defeatist statement, the minister also threw everything to ASUU while appearing on Channels Television's ‘Politics Today’, stating that only ASUU can determine the end of the strike. This goes to explain that unless ASUU calls off the strike, the federal government's hands are tied.
He went further to fault ASUU for threatening the Minister of Digital Economy and Communication with the revocation of his professorship and allegedly intimidating people at the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.
Ngige not favoured in popular reactions
But reactions on social media had faulted the Minister for failing to employ diplomacy while ensuring that the ASUU strike is resolved. They believe Ngige is playing according to the script written by the federal government on the ASUU matter.
Comrade Sunday Asefon, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, had earlier called for the sack of the minister for failing to address the issue of ASUU that had been on the ground for over a decade. The NANS president also accused the minister and his education counterpart of being insincere in addressing the ASUU saga.
Ngige gets blame for NARD strike
Similarly, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, president of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, had during their strike action called for the sack of the minister of Ngige, explaining that the minister was one of those responsible for putting the doctors in a position to go on strike.
Recall that Nigerian resident doctors had on April 1, 2021 embarked on an indefinite strike over the failure of the federal government to pay the salary arrears of house officers across the country and review hazard allowance, among other demands despite a 60-day ultimatum given by the union.
Also, Salihu Lukman, the director-general of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) had blamed Ngige over the doctors' strike, appealing to his party to talk to Ngige and others to end the most dangerous strike ever.
In an ongoing Twitter protest by Nigerian students, they have decried that the federal government is prioritizing the 2023 elections as against showing concern towards the plight of universities students who are currently at home.
Some of the students raised the alarm that the crime rate may rise as they continue to remain at home.
As it stands, it's yet to be seen if, with the ongoing protest, the government and ASUU will seal a mutual deal that will enable students to return to the classrooms. This has become a major source of worry to parents and students who are the most hit by the current development.
Ngige is contesting for the position of the nation’s president. Nigeria is made up of over 200 million people. The country is in need of individuals with track records, particularly with regard to positive policy formulation.
Nigerian universities are dominated by young people and the youths form 70 per cent of the voting population in the country.
In 2023, Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world would go to the polls. One of the most contentious of the elections is the presidential election as President Muhammadu Buhari would be completing his two terms as stipulated in the constitution come next year.
After Amaechi, Another Buhari's Minister Formally Declares for Presidency
The minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has officially declared his intention to run for the position of president on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
Ngige announced his presidential ambition while addressing his supporters in his hometown at Alor in Idemili North, Anambra state, on Tuesday, April 19.
The minister said that if given the opportunity to lead, he would be president everybody would be proud of.