In a recent interview with ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel, he disclosed the latest developments as regards the ongoing strike action.
“Strike will last throughout this year if the government refuse to attend to our demands,” says ASUU President in a recent interview.
Stechitegist Media reports that the Prof. Osodeke revealed that they have used all ways to negotiate with the Federal Government, but it’s wasn’t yielding result, and as therefore extended the strike actions.
Read the full interview with Prof Osodeke below:
The NEC of ASUU announced a 12-week strike recently while citing the inaction of the Federal Government. What are some of the issues yet to be addressed by the government?
None of the issues ranging from revitalisation fund, earned academic allowance, deployment of UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution), release of visitation panel reports, proliferation of universities and reforms has been fully addressed; so, nothing has happened.
Isn’t there another way for the union to seek redress, especially seeing that students are home for close to three months?
Which other ways do Nigerians or the press want us to use? We have used all the ways; we issued warnings, we had meetings, we had MoA (Memorandum of Action), we had Memorandum of Understanding, all the visible methods we could talk through with, and then nothing happened. So, what do we do? Strike is the last option remaining, and they (government) are not even responding, so what do we do?
So, you mean there is no other means?
If you have any, you can suggest.
In what way is the UTAS better than the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, which was proposed by the Federal Government?
Well, we keep saying that the IPPIS is a fraud being managed by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, whose head is also charged with fraud. We have been vindicated; you heard that the AGF has been arrested by the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) for misappropriation of N80bn and suspended; this is not small. The IPPIS is a platform they use to siphon money. UTAS is a platform that has been tested but they refused to deploy it. UTAS will take care of all the sectors in the university, which is not in the IPPIS. Issue of sabbatical, issue of visiting lecturers, all will be taken care of by UTAS, which is not accommodated by the IPPIS.
The IPPIS cannot take care of the peculiarities of universities and UTAS is designed in such a way that it can accommodate everything. As I’m talking to you, a large number of people are being owed eight, nine and 10 months’ salaries because they cannot be paid by the IPPIS. What you’re paid today, you’re not sure of what you will get next on the IPPIS. It cannot cater for all peculiarities of universities. UTAS was designed for the Nigerian university system at no cost to the government. But with the IPPIS, we pay to the people taking care of it, like the World Bank, on a monthly basis.
The Accountant-General of the Federation was accused of N80bn fraud. What will that amount do for ASUU?
No, we should be asking what the N80bn will do for Nigeria taken by one man. It’s not about ASUU. It’s about Nigeria. N80bn can construct not less than 80 to 100 kilometres of road. That N80bn will build 10 new secondary and primary schools. It will take care of all the lab equipment in all tertiary institutions in the country. But one man allegedly took it away.
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities has also introduced its own payroll system. Are you not concerned that this system can complicate the remuneration process in the university system?
Ordinarily, they should have joined us just like the polytechnics and colleges of education have done. But if at all, they want to do theirs, it should be subjected to a test by the NITDA. What we are saying is let the NITDA subject the three systems to a test and we will take the best one.
Why has ASUU shunned meetings with the Briggs committee?
It’s good to get facts right. All the meetings they have invited us for we have attended all of them, but they have not come up with any meaningful thing. They have not shown any sign of agreement or giving us attention that our issues are outstanding.
TETfund has always been described as a major player in the development of higher institutions of learning. Do you think the agency has lived up to expectations in terms of funding the major infrastructural projects in the universities?
The only problem we have in TETfund now is that politicians have taken over TETfund and it is also being managed by all Nigerian fund systems. They call it stakeholders’ forum and board of trustees’ fund; they mismanage the funds and it is no longer as envisaged when we proposed this mode of funding in 1992. Similarly, the Board of Trustees’ Fund, when it was planned, it wasn’t supposed to have a big number of companies that are not paying their dues and taxes. This is why their effect in the country is dwindling.
There ought to be a thorough investigation up to the FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service) where they collect the funds. When it was established, it was not like that. It was not established to be a big bureaucracy and that is why its effect is dwindling. Let’s go back to the initial design of TETfund; by that design, TETfund is an agency that is available, the money is collected and disbursed as it’s evaluated every year, with ASUU being a member of its council; but now, it has become a bureaucratic system just like the ministry since ASUU was removed. There is a need for the government to undertake a very serious auditing of TETfund from the beginning till now and ASUU should be in that committee so that the deficiencies can be corrected.
The NUC stated that there are about 100,000 lecturers to over 2.1 million students in universities. What do you think is responsible for the massive brain drain of lecturers?
Again, we have less than 60,000 lecturers and not 100,000. The ratio is much wider than what was said by the NUC. What do you think is responsible? It’s because we can’t recruit. Because of our condition of service, lots are leaving the country for other countries, but nobody is coming here. That’s the problem. That’s why we recruit people who are not fit to be lecturers. We need to improve on our condition of service so that we can attract lecturers from all over the world, so that those who have left due to brain drain can come back; we will not be moving forward if we don’t do this. We have to upgrade the condition of service in Nigeria in such a way we can attract lecturers all over the world.
What’s the way out?
For you to get the best, you have to improve the welfare package. A lecturer is earning….. READ FULL STORY
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