The AAC said the seeds of the current crisis in Nigeria's education sector were sown by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo during which Atiku was the Vice President.
The African Action Congress (AAC) Presidential Campaign Spokesperson, Onyinye-Gandhi Chukwunyere has described as ludicrous claims by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that the current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would not have happened under his administration.
Chukwunyere in a statement obtained by SaharaReporters on Sunday said indeed the seeds of the current crisis in Nigeria's education sector were sown by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo during which Atiku was the Vice President.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar earlier said the government’s inability to resolve the strike embarked upon by university lecturers would never happen under his administration.
Atiku disclosed this while speaking on Friday at the commemoration of the 2022 International Youth Day in Abuja.
ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14, 2022, under the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari over the administration's failure to honour agreements signed by both parties.
The lecturers’ demands include; the revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment of university lecturers’ salaries, among others.
“Therefore, I take very strong exception to the strike by ASUU. The inability of the government to resolve that crisis will never happen under a PDP government or administration that I will oversee,” Atiku had said.
“I have been investing in education for the past 30 years. I believe the PDP provides the best platform for you to actualise your individual, collective aspirations."
But the presidential campaign team of the AAC, whose candidate is Omoyele Sowore, said Atiku's claim would be "ludicrous and unworthy of response but for its tragic reflection of Mr. Atiku's dishonesty with the Nigerian people".
It added that the education was grossly underfunded under the PDP government that Atiku was a key part of.
The statement further read, "We wish to remind Mr. Atiku that under the PDP government, with him as Vice President from 1999 to 2007, the nation's education sector was woefully neglected and grossly under-funded.
"Indeed, the seeds of the current crisis in the sector were sown by that administration, and it was under its watch that the shameful trend of incessant ASUU strikes began. Mr. Atiku and his PDP oversaw about 7 industrial actions by ASUU, including a major strike in 2003 which kept Nigerian students at home for about 6 months.
"The PDP's disdain for the education of Nigerians was so pronounced that its budgetary allocations to education consistently remained below 9% of the national budget, and significantly off the 25% recommendation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"However, unlike Mr. Atiku and the PDP, candidate Omoyele Sowore and the AAC have developed a robust intervention plan to revamp the education sector with adequate funding for teaching, learning, and research infrastructure, as well as staff welfare. Sowore will make the aggressive investment in education necessary to propel the nation into the ambitious future we envisage.
"We urge Nigerians to see through Mr. Atiku's deceit and reject him, his PDP, and the embarrassingly inept APC at the polls in 2023."
In 1999, ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike due to the failure of negotiations between the union and the government over the working conditions in Nigerian universities.
In 2001, the union again embarked on another strike over the reinstatement of 49 lecturers sacked at the University of Ilorin.
In December 2002, the union embarked on a two-week strike because of the failure of the Obasanjo administration to implement an agreement it had with the union during the previous strike.
In 2003, public universities in Nigeria were shut down for six months as ASUU embarked on another strike due to the non-implementation of previous agreements, which covered poor university funding and disparity in salary and retirement age.
In 2005, Nigerian students witnessed another disruption when the university lecturers stayed off campuses for two weeks.
In April 2006, a three-day warning strike which eventually lasted for one week crippled academic activities in public universities.
The union again embarked on another strike on March 26, 2007; a strike which lasted for three months.
Also, while public university education was being neglected by the PDP government, and occasioned by incessant strike actions, Atiku in 2004 established the American University of Nigeria, which enrolled its first set of students in 2005.