Group seeks release of intervention fund to varsities

A non-governmental organisation, Citizens for Leadership, Education and Development (CFLED), has urged the Central Bank to immediately release intervention funds accruable to universities in the country.

It recalled that N1.3 trillion was earmarked in 2013 as intervention fund to upgrade and develop critical infrastructures in higher institutions, and noted that the non-release of the fund had hindered implementation of ongoing projects across the universities. Coordinator of the group, Sylvester Ugochukwu Ezenwa, who made the plea in Abuja, recalled that the Federal Government had, during a negotiation with Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSU) to end the then five month-old industrial action, agreed to set aside the funds for implementation of projects in the schools.

He, however, noted that since the agreement was reached between the two parties in 2012, only about N100 billion had been given to the institutions, a situation he observed led to the abandonment of projects by contractors.   According to him, such development was inimical to the growth of the educational sector.   He noted that out of the N1.3 trillion, the government was expected to release about N220 billion yearly to the universities.

He said: “These schools were asked to submit NEEDS assessments projects after which it was agreed that an account should be opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where the funds will be kept. The Federal Government is yet to release over N700 billion covering a period of three years and the balance of 2013 respectively to the institutions.

“We reliably gathered that an industrial action by ASUU, which would paralyse academic activities at the university campuses, was imminent as the Federal Government has since reneged on the agreement.”