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The new naira notes.
The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, on Wednesday faulted the redesign of the naira, saying the Federal Government should have given the funds for the redesigned notes to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Sowore said the amount the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spent to redesign the naira is N218 billion. He argued that the fund should be disbursed to aggrieved varsity lecturers.
Sowore flayed Nigerian leaders for not addressing the welfare of Nigerians but only concerned about the naira redesign.
“These are issues you get from leaders who are concerned about the welfare of the people of the country, not the redesign of the naira which cost us N218 billion. We should have given that money to ASUU,” he said.
According to him, the intervention fund will help prevent strikes as well as help improve the state of the nation’s tertiary education sector.
Earlier today, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja.
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Accusing the Federal Government of not running the tertiary education system well, Sowore is however against the idea of privatising the sector.
The presidential hopeful insisted that if elected as President in the 2023 general elections, he would ensure free and qualitative education to all Nigerians.
He also pledged to cater for the needs of the over 1.7 million Nigerian students in tertiary institutions, noting that each will get N100,000 per semester.
“They are not running anything well; I will never be part of those who ask the private sector to run. It will be a publicly run education programme.
“We are focusing on free education. Every student in Nigeria who is in higher institution will get at least N100,000 per semester as study grant from the Federal Government,” Sowore added.
When asked where he would generate such funds to pay the over 1.7 million Nigerian undergraduates, the AAC candidate said his administration will plunge the loopholes in government and channel such into key priority areas like education.
ASUU had on October 14 suspended its eight-month strike in line with an order by the National Industrial Court for the lecturers to return to work.
When they returned to classes, the Federal Government paid the varsity teachers half salaries for the month of October. The development did not augur well with the lecturers who embarked on a one-day nationwide protest over the part payment last Monday.
But the Federal Government has since defended the pro-rata payment to ASUU members in October, saying they cannot be paid for work not done.
Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, through the spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.