• Laments govt handling of pacts with union
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is claiming that the planned establishment of an education bank and a loan scheme for students is a deliberate move to commercialise public universities in the country.
ASUU declared that the attempt by the government negotiation team to reintroduce the issue of education bank and the loan scheme in the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement with the union smacked of barefaced blackmail.
The Port Harcourt zone of the union expressed the concern at a press conference held at the University of Port Harcourt to review the proposed education bank and tuition designed to allegedly malign the university teachers before Nigerians students and the general public.According to the coordinator, Uzo Onyebinama, the government’s claim that education ought to be funded from diverse sources and consequently the proposed education bank and a students’ loan scheme, is nothing but a ploy to introduce exorbitant tuition and other fees in public universities.
Onyebinama said ASUU believed that education is a public service and, therefore, the union considered the proposals as an incentive for privates universities to thrive and ultimately deny the children of poor Nigerians access to university education.He noted that ASUU has demonstrated its belief in dialogue and due process by subscribing to the renegotiation process despite the fact that many components of the agreement and the subsequent memorandum of understanding as well as memorandum of action arising there from have not been implemented.
Onyebinama expressed regret that the renegotiation had broken down since May 2018 after 14 months due largely to what he described as deliberate tactics adopted by the leader of the government team, Dr. Wale Babalakin. ASUU accused the government team of scuttling the negotiation, by jettisoning the principle of collective bargaining and the gains of previous agreements.
The university teachers urged well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to show faith and restart the renegotiation process by reconstituting a team and implementing the outstanding components of the 2017 memorandum of action through the release of the forensic audit report on the payments of the earned academic allowances and balance of arrears of the aforementioned allowances for 2009-
In a related development, the Calabar zone of ASUU, has lamented that 58years after Nigeria gained independence, successive governments have not given education the serious attention it requires.Addressing journalists in Uyo yesterday, the coordinator of the zone, Dr. Aniekan Brown, said the lack of political will by leaders in the country had always resulted in their reneging in all agreements aimed at improving universities in the country.
He wondered why government at all levels who are supposed to give education the needed attention would not provide matching grants to enable them accessed the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds to support free universal and compulsory basic education in the country.
According to him, since 2009, ASUU has been having issues with successive government, yet none of the issues have been successfully treated. It is a clear demonstration of government’s lack of interest in addressing the decay in the nation’s university system.
The zone also alleged plan to commercialise education in the country, a situation that would make only the rich to gain admission to tertiary institution.“Members of ASUU, like millions of other patriotic Nigerians, have watched with heavy hearts the worsening socio-economic and political situation in Nigeria, which has placed the education sector as the first victim of inefficiency in governance.
“Successive governments are more interested in securing a second term of office immediately after inauguration than preparing the next generation of Nigerians for the challenges of competitive global economy, which can only be guaranteed by sound qualitative, affordable and accessible education.
“It is little surprise that most public primary and secondary schools are in despicable and deplorable states from which no one should expect a solid foundation for Nigeria’s educational development. Yet, both federal and state governments revel in proliferating tertiary institutions particularly universities.
Many of these academic institutions established without any funding agenda, like those in existence before them, are now, in less than ten years, crying loud for survival.”