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FG’s non implementation of 2023 MoU responsible for university decay – ASUU

…Condemns proliferation of universities

 

The Federal Government has been blamed for the level of decay and rot witnessed in the nation’s university system.

 

The leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who so remarked, alleged that this is because the government has not implemented the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2013 which should cater for the N1.3 trillion funding of universities for over a period of six years.

ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, speaking on the outcome of the recent National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Union held in Bayelsa State.

He, therefore, called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led administration to urgently initiate moves to conduct another Needs Assessment exercise to public universities in Nigeria to verify the call for intervention in public universities in Nigeria.

Osodeke noted that many Nigerian universities would have been restored to a level at which they could attract foreign students and become renowned for cutting-edge and transformative research.

ASUU President said: “Funding for revitalisation has been central in the struggles of our union and it remains a cardinal demand in all our agreements and memoranda with governments.

“In reference to the aftermath of the 2022 struggle, the Federal Government claimed to have budgeted a sum of N170 billion in the 2023 budget.

“Our understanding was that N120 billion was meant to address part of the outstanding Needs Assessment Intervention Fund, while the balance would go into paying one of the agreed tranches of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA). Sadly, however, the government has not released any funds to the universities based on the understanding.

“Consequently, efforts to address issues of shortage of lecture rooms and theatres; inadequate hostel and office accommodation; poor laboratories, studios, workshops and libraries; and supply and maintenance of utilities in our universities have been frustrated.

“This has compelled a number of university administrations to raise fees, levies and sundry charges paid by the students beyond the reach of impoverished Nigerians,” he stated.

The union condemned in its entirety the wave of fee hike without inputs of the victims across out campuses, saying the scandalous reports of stupendous funds diverted from government treasuries at the state and federal levels reinforce our belief that resources available to the country could support government-funded university education – without excessive pressures on parents as currently done.

“Had the Federal Government kept faith with our MoU in 2013, which provided for N1.3 trillion over a period of six years, many of our universities should have been restored to a level at which they could attract foreign students and become renowned for cutting-edge and transformative research.

“We challenge the Tinubu administration to urgently initiate moves to conduct another needs assessment exercise to empirically verify our call for massive intervention in our public universities. It was the Federal Government’s response to a similar challenge in 2012 that gave rise to the aggregate sum of N1.3 trillion which the government has since abrogated,” he stated.

The university lecturers also condemned what they described as proliferation of universities, noting that it was one of the issues that led to the strike actions of 2020 and 2022, and part of the MoU signed by ASUU and Federal Government of Nigeria.

Osodeke said the Union had stressed the need to review the National Universities Commission (NUC) Act to make it more potent in arresting proliferation of universities.

“A joint committee of ASUU and the government was set up which submitted a draft Bill to the National Assembly on this matter. However, that Bill has not seen the light of day,” he said.

“The fallout of that is the massive and reckless manner by which the federal and state governments are establishing universities without making adequate preparations for their funding.’’

“At the federal level, each Senator is targeting to establish a university as part of their constituency projects, while the visitors to state universities who could not find existing universities are establishing two or more universities for political gains.

“This trend has put much stress on intervention funds of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) which are diverted to establish new universities contrary to the Fund’s Law,” ASUU stated.

Osodeke particularly said the union was shocked to receive the report of a State Governor who proudly declared that he would establish 10 universities before the end of his tenure as “if they are model nursery and primary schools.”

“ASUU would explore all legal means to resist the pervasive moves by politicians to keep proliferating crisis centres for the children of the poor in the name of universities,” he said.

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