Thursday, August 22, 2013

FG not ready to end strike – ASUU

After 10 unsuccessful meetings with the Federal Government, the
Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday said government
was not ready to end the 8-week-old strike, lamenting that government
displayed dishonesty and lack of integrity during negotiations.
At a briefing in Lagos, ASUU's President, Dr. Isa Faggae, claimed that
government had declared it would not implement the agreed injection of
funds to revitalise the public universities, but was only making a
dubious statement of supporting some universities with N100 billion.
He said: "Government had also declared that it will not pay university
academics their earned allowances which accumulated from 2009 to 2013.
Rather, it is talking about providing N30 billion to assist various
Governing Councils of Federal Universities to defray the arrears of
N92 billion owed to all categories of staff in the university system."
Narrating the union's experience at the last meeting with the
Government held on Monday, Faggae said: ASUU was shocked by the level
of deceit, dishonesty, and lack of integrity displayed by the
Government. Never in the history of ASUU-Government relations have we,
as a union, ever experienced the kind of volte-face exhibited by
Government. At one stage in the interaction, the Secretary to the
Government Federation ridiculed the agreement, the MoU and the Needs
Assessment Report, mocking the Minister of Education to "go and give
them N400 billion," at which members of the government scornfully
He argued that the Governor Gabriel Suswam-led Implementation
Committee was being used as smokescreen to "deceive ASUU, Nigerian
students and their parents, as well as other unsuspecting members of
the public on the purportedly released N100 billion for the
implementation ofthe Needs Assessment Report.
First, he said, government plans to divert the regular yearly
allocations to universities by Tertiary Education Trust, TETFund, to
make at least 70% of the N100 billion. This is unacceptable to ASUU.
It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul, since the idea of revitalization
took full cognizance of the intervention role TETFund ab-initio.
"Again, contrary to subsisting operational procedures, about 75% of
the money meant for revitalizing universities would not be released to
them as the Suswam Committee plans to hand over construction of the
hostel projects to the Federal Ministry of Education and/or the
National Universities Commission, for implementation. This is illegal;
neither the ministry nor NUC is backed by laws of Nigerian Public
Universities to divert monies meant for the development of these
institutions into centrally executed projects."
Dr. Faggae questioned the committee's motives for proposing to commit
N1.6 million to a bed space, instead of N200, 000 to N400, 000,
saying, "We see a continuation of outrageous contract regimes in the
planto centrally coordinate the construction of student hostels as
done in the case of the 12 newly established Federal Universities with
TETFund resources. The NUC has transmuted itself into a "Tenders'
board" which awarded contracts for the construction of 560 bed spaces
hostel for eachuniversity at a whooping sum of 1.2 bn. This contract
sum translates intoN2.143 million per bed space."

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