• Appeals to FG to return N20bn revitalisation fund
Worried by the deterioration of facilities, the chairman of the Benin Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), Dr Monday Igbafen has appealed to the federal government to save public universities in the country from collapsing imminent by immediately ordering the release of the N20 billion revitalisation fund.
The unionist who called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the federal government to meet their demands, however, insisted that university lecturers will not hesitate to embark on an indefinite strike action if they meet their demands are eventually not met.
Igbafen who spoke in Benin slammed the federal government for failing to release the amount in two installments of N10 billion each in September and October 2017 as of promised.
He defended the agitation for the release of the fund, saying that it was not for selfish reasons but to improve on the level of infrastructure in tertiary institutions across the country.
According to him, it was a cause for serious concern that various demands placed before the federal government by ASUU have not been met.
Igbafen said: “Release of the forensic audit report on Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) payments to offset the balance of arrears for 2009-2012 and to mainstream the cost of addressing EAA into annual budget starting with 2018. The government did not keep to its words.
“Payment of arrears of shortfall in salary, even after the presidential initiative on continuous audit (PICA) verification.
“As at this point, this is still outstanding in many universities contrary to government’s promise to address it within one week of the suspension of the strike by ASUU in September 2017.
“Release of the operational license of NUPEMCO and poor funding and proliferation of state universities. Recognising the concurrence of education in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, the union sought for intervention through the national council of states, to draw the attention of proprietors of state universities to the problem of proliferation of state universities without adequately funding the existing ones,” he said.
The union further accused the federal government of deliberate ploy to destroy the education system in the country through deliberate starvation of funds.
Igbafen continued: “Recall, that in 2019, our union, ASUU, entered into an agreement with the government of (I.e the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement), with the representatives of Pro-Chancellors of state universities.
“Implementation of that agreement was to arrest the decay and rot in Nigerian public universities, ranging from paucity of infrastructure, dilapidated physical facilities, empty libraries, laboratories. That agreement also provided that it will be renegotiated every three years.”
He said that in an attempt to assess the level of decay of infrastructural facilities in the national public universities, the government undertook the Needs Assessment of Universities and came up with a report for urgent intervention.
Igbafen, however, added that the government did not keep to its promise, an action which resulted in industrial actions to compel the government to implement the 2009 ASUU/FGN agreement.
He added: “These actions eventually led to the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding and the Memorandum of Action of 2017.”
Source: Tribune Newspapers