THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has again urged the federal and state governments to quickly honour all aspects of the agreements they entered into with the union, in order to prevent a major crisis from scuttling the “peace in the nation’s public universities at this critical period.”
This was the thrust of a press conference held on Tuesday, by the Lagos zone of ASUU, at the University of Lagos.
In his speech, the coordinator of the zone, Professor Olusiji Sowande, said even though members of the union had always favoured less drastic means of resolving dispute with the government, it was unfortunate that “the only language the government appears to respect is that of strike.”
Among the issues raised by the union are the “non-release of Needs Assessment Intervention Fund, inadequate funding of state universities, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, non-implementation of agreement concerning earned academic allowances and the refusal of the National Pension Commission to release the license for the take-off of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company.”
Sowande said: “Based on the ASUU-FG Memorandum of November 2013, Nigerian universities required N1.3 trillion for the revitalisation of the universities in Nigeria, in order to favourably compete with other universities around the world. This amount was based on the outcome of the FG-conducted Needs Assessment of Public Universities in July, 2012.
“In the December 11, 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), government agreed to release the funds in six installments over a period of six years, starting with N200 billion in 2013 and subsequent payment of N220 billion each in the remaining five years, spanning 2014 to 2018, but government is in arrears of N605 billion as at the third quarter of 2016.”
Sowande also described as condemnable, the “decline in the budgetary allocation to education from 11 per cent in 2015 to eight per cent in 2016.”
Sowande, who said members of the union were “frustrated and increasingly agitated,” urged the government to “act fast to forestall the impending consequences leading to industrial dispute.”