Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday apologised to Nigerians, not for attendance but for his “insensitive” decision to post a picture of himself attending a leadership course at U.S. Harvard University at a time Nigerian students are at home due to shutdown of academic activities in public universities as a result of the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions.
Several activists have described his ‘return to class” posing for pictures and posting them online while attending the U.S. university course as insensitive especially as he has failed to lead in resolving the strike.
But on Wednesday, Speaker Gbajabiamila took to his verified Twitter handle @femigbaja to apologise.
According to his statement: “Yesterday, I posted a picture of myself at the @Harvard @Kennedy_School, undergoing a course. That post was not sensitive to the present feelings of fellow citizens, especially parents and students who are presently bearing the brunt of the ongoing closure of public universities owing to the unresolved issues between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“I apologise for the post at this time, and I hope you will understand that it was not my intention to cause disaffection. As Speaker of @HouseNGR, I have made multiple interventions within the powers of the legislature to avert the ongoing strike. I had direct engagements with ASUU, relevant government agencies. The House of Representatives is still keenly involved in seeking a resolution to the issues so our students can return to school. We all await the outcome of the two-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiations with ASUU.
“I have long been a champion of public education in Nigeria, and I have consistently advocated programs, policies and investments to improve the quality of public education in the country. In my constituency and beyond, I have attracted a new international students hostel in UNILAG, facilitated access to free internet WiFi in all public tertiary institutions in Lagos State; provision of modern ICT centres in 24 secondary schools across the state, provision of scholarships and grants to indigent students in selected tertiary institutions, provision of laptops to all secondary school teachers in my constituency and hundreds of students, facilitated the renovation of over 15 public schools in Lagos.”
The PUNCH reports that under Gbajabiamila’s tenure as Speaker, Nigeria witnessed its longest ASUU strike in 2020.