According to ASUU, the federal government is not interested in supporting the nation’s public universities.
ASUU, the Academic Staff Union of Colleges, charged on Tuesday that the Federal Government was uninterested in supporting the nation’s public universities.
According to STECHITEGIST MEDIA, the union claimed that the federal government is purposefully underfunding universities under the pretense of having no money in order to impose exorbitant tuition rates that are out of the reach of the children of the masses and ultimately privatize these institutions for their own benefit.
This was said by Ibrahim Inuwa, the branch president of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, during a press conference held at the ATBU ASUU Secretariat following a nonviolent protest on Tuesday.
After holding a congress, the Union staged the protest from their secretariat, marched to the main ATBU gate, then returned to their starting place, according to the DAILY POST.
They performed songs of unity and carried signs reading, among other things: “ASUU demands the deployment of UTAS,” “ASUU rejects prorating of academics’ salaries,” “ASUU is more patriotic than FGN officials,” “Release withheld salaries of academics,” “We say no to privatization of public universities,” and “IPPIS & Pro-rata payment to academics are diversion from our demands.”
The development of Nigeria’s public universities in line with international best practices has become glaringly obvious to the Union, he claimed.
It is clear that universities are being purposefully underfunded under the pretense that there is no money, in order to impose astronomical tuition costs that are out of the grasp of the children of the masses and, ultimately, privatize these universities to themselves.
“After the 8-month strike was put on hold by a court decision and the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians, the government stooped so low as to withhold ASUU members’ salaries and only pay them pro rata for the month of October. The Union opposes the casualization of academics in Nigeria.
“The Union guarantees Nigerians that it will never participate in the demise of the nation. The Union will never encourage the imposition of expensive tuition costs that are beyond of the grasp of the underprivileged children of Nigeria, nor will it support the privatization of Nigeria’s public universities.
As a law-abiding union, ASUU used a number of diplomatic strategies to convince the government to deal with the difficult issues in the public colleges, but all of them were met with resistance. Following that, just like on previous occasions, the Union was forced to call a statewide strike on February 14, 2022, to emphasize its demands. For the avoidance of doubt, the following problems prompted the strike:
The government at the state and federal levels became politically fixated with the establishment of public universities, even though it is obvious that the current ones are glaringly underfunded, while the union toils day and night to ensure that the government honors the agreement it willingly signed with the union.
“Additionally, university visitation panels, which are required by law to give Visitors of Universities (President/State governors) the chance to examine the management of the university operations in terms of finance, personnel, academic activities, and other matters, were not conducted for over fifteen years: it took a second ASUU strike in 2020 for the government to set up the visitation panels, but to this day the white papers for the visitations are still being prepared.
He made an appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to persuade the government to, urgently and in the national interest, resolve all outstanding issues with ASUU for the welfare of the Nigerian nation so that the nation will take its proper place in the world, stating that “for the avoidance of doubts, we wish to state clearly that we shall continue to defend the University system and the Nigerian State through all legitimate means, we cannot be cowed by tyrants.”
In another speech, Prof. Lawan Abubakar, the coordinator for the Bauchi Zonal, claimed the federal government of deliberately trying to ruin Nigeria’s public institutions by permitting strikes to drag on for so long.
Abubakar accused the government of inciting the over seven-month strike and allowing it to drag on when they could have put an end to it quickly by enforcing agreements reached with the union. He claimed that withholding the salaries of its members and the pro rata payments are diversionary tactics used by the government from the main issues.
“The Union made a decision to proceed in this manner, thus we suspended the most recent strike after realizing that the government was the one who initiated it because it would not be necessary following the 2020 strike because we have a MOA and implementation timelines.
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Furthermore, the administration could have done the same thing in February 2022 but instead waited eight months to come up with its solution. Since we believed we were the most knowledgeable stakeholders and had witnessed a deliberate effort to undermine the public university system in Nigeria, we declared that the strike should end.
“And when government now continued with the provocation to the extent of paying the October pro rata salary, we went at the National Executive Council meeting and really affirmed to Nigerians what we will not join hands with these elements in government who want to create ongoing problems in the Nigerian public university system so that the private universities van thrive because as it is now, more than 95% of Nigerian students are still in public universities,” the statement continued.
The Zonal Coordinator stated that: “The private universities are less than 5% and are thriving while the public universities are losing money, so they need to be protected by these elements in government because most of them have these private universities and most of them have seeming sinister motives to even privatize public universities; that is why some of them are situating federal universities in their villages so that they can quickly own and run them.”