Varsities are under-staffed —NAAT 

• Calls for employment of more technologists

The National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has lamented that universities in the country are greatly under-staffed, especially in the area of laboratory technologists.

To this end, the union said more academic technologists should be employed to conform with the standard and guideline set by the National Universities Commission (NUC).

In a communiqué issued at the end of its 29th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, it also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure immediate release of the Needs Assessment Intervention Fund owed the public universities.

The communique, signed by the General Secretary of NAAT, Comrade Iyoyo Hamilton, said: “It has been observed that universities are greatly under-staffed especially in the area of laboratory technologists, against the background of the National Universities Commission’s guideline on technologist/student ratio. To conform to this standard, more Academic Technologists should be employed.

“The training and re-training of Academic Technologists had in the past not been given the required attention by most universities and other institutions of higher learning. In view of their roles in the higher institutions of learning and the ever-increasing technological advancements, training and retraining of Academic Technologists should be given priority to enable them meet up with current trends.

NAAT called on the Federal Government, especially President Buhari to immediately release the Needs Assessment Intervention Fund without further delay.

Comrade Iyoyo commended the Federal Government on the establishment of the Needs Assessment Intervention Fund for the universities which, he said has assisted greatly in the renovation of dilapidated structures and building of new lecture theatres, laboratories, e.t,c.

However, he lamented that the failure on the part of the government to release the second tranche of the fund is greatly affecting the set goals of the project.

The association also observed with dismay the shortfall in personnel and overhead costs to the universities and other institutions of higher learning in recent months; adding that this development has forced the institutions to go extra-mile to augment the deficit being experienced in the payment of salaries.

“NAAT demands that the deductions should be stopped and payment of outstanding arrears made so as to cushion the effect of the harsh economy currently being experienced,” he said.

Comrade Hamilton also called for the full implementation of the 2009 Federal Government/NAAT agreement, adding that the union considers it unacceptable that seven years after the Federal Government freely entered into this agreement, the agreement is yet to be fully implemented.

NAAT, according to him demands that the agreement be fully and uniformly implemented by the government; while he stated that the government should expedite action in the renegotiation processes.