The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has vowed to end the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on his very first day as president, if elected.
University lecturers commenced on an indefinite strike in November 2018 to protest the government's failure to implement an agreement previously reached between both parties. Several meetings held between officials on both sides have failed to yield positive results.
While speaking at the Silverbird Man of the Year event on Sunday, February 3, 2019, Atiku, a former vice president, said he would put an immediate end to the crisis if elected president.
He said, "I am aghast that as I speak, our students across the nation are not being educated due to the ASUU strike caused by an unresolved debate of about N60 billion.
"If I get the job I am seeking, my first task on day one - along with naming my cabinet - will be to end this disgraceful strike and get our students back to their studies."
While expressing his recognition of the value of education towards developing a nation, Atiku also promised to triple the budgetary allocation of education if elected.
"I will also triple the amount the Nigerian Government spends on education from 7% of its budget today, not just to the 15% recommended by UNESCO, but to 20 per cent," he said.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has allocated around 7% of its budgets since 2016 to education, and has failed to put an end to incessant ASUU strikes that has been a trademark of the education sector for the past two decades.
2019 presidential race
Even though the February 16 presidential election is expected to be keenly-contested between Atiku and Buhari, they both face competition from 70 other candidates including Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).
Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People's Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim of Peoples Trust (PT) and many more.