THE meeting between Gombe State Governor Inuwa Yahaya and the National Visitation Team of Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) in Gombe on Wednesday ended in a stalemate as ASUU threatened to embark on total strike action if the government failed to yield to its demands.
Governor Yahaya had explained the poor financial status of the state, especially with the biting effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
The governor insisted that rather than ask for tax reduction from government, ASUU should educate its members on the need to pay their taxes because that is the only way the government can get fund to meet their demands.
“Nigeria will pass the next 10 more years in this trouble brought by COVID-19 pandemic because we don’t have the capacity to absorb the economic shock that set in with it. If we are to move forward, the state and the university must collaborate.
“On the issue of tax, if we do not have those taxes, how do we generate that money to do all the things you are asking for. On one side, you demand less tax which is even lesser than the one ASUU is charging, on the other you are demanding more money. It is a give-and-take issue. You need to educate your people that they need to pay taxes. If you pay your taxes, and you need to tax those of us in government to perform, if we don’t perform hang us,” he said.
The head of ASUU visitation team, Prof. Ade Adejumo said the union is familiar with all the issues the governor raised, “but we are still insisting that the government has not done enough and we hope that they will sit up and live up to the expectations of the people of the state.”
He said the university can drive development in the state if it is properly funded.
“We held a Congress with our people and the resolution of the Congress is that they would need an action to drum home their demands. We have gotten promises from the government that they will do the needful in terms of proper funding of the university. They also acknowledged the fact that for years, in terms of capital development, the university has been neglected and they have also accepted the fact that there should be an intervention in terms of funding. We hope that they will live up to their promises,” he said.
The Chairman of ASUU, Gombe State University, Dr Lawal Oladimeji said: “So far the union has not agreed on anything with the state government and if the national body of the union gave the university go ahead, it will embark on indefinite strike action to press home its demands.”
According to him, the issues with the state government include those of inadequate funding of the university, excessive taxation, non-payment of accumulated academic allowances and the need to have training funds for the university through which members of academic staff will be trained to attain higher degree.