Crisis looms in varsities as ASUU asks FG to honour agreement

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 Zzne 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 have always favoured less drastic means of resolving their dispute with the government, it is 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 takeoff of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company.”

Sowande said: “Based on the ASUU-FGN memorandum of November 2013, Nigerian universities required N1.3trillion 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 FGN-conducted Needs Assessment of Public Universities in July, 2012.

“In the December 11, 2013 MoU, government agreed to release the funds in six instalments over a period of six years starting with 200 billion naira in 2013, and subsequent payment of 220 billion naira each in the remaining five years spanning 2014 – 2018. But government is in arrears of 605 billion naira 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 are “frustrated and increasingly agitated” urged the government to “act fast to forestall the impending consequences leading to industrial dispute.”