The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has urged the Federal Government to bar state governments proposing to establish new universities from accessing Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) for a minimum of 10 years.
The union added that owners of proposed universities- whether federal or state- should provide verifiable growth plan for providing not less than 75 percent of their pensionable staff complement plus provision of requisite infrastructural facilities.
ASUU hinge its demand on the precarious state of state-owned universsities in Nigeria.
National President of ASUU Prof Victor Osodeke told reporters in Ilorin, Kwara State capital at the end of the union’s national executive council meeting.
Prof Osodeke expressed his dismay on the declining fortune of state-owned universsities and their neglect by state governors “whose responsibility it is to fund, staff, equip and make the universsities nationally and globally competitive.
“Unless urgent and necessary steps are taken, our state-owned universsities may soon collapse beyond redemption.”
Continuing, Prof Osodeke said “politicians in the Fourth Republic have turned establishment of state universities into projects for appeasing electorate in their senatorial and state constituencies. While neglecting the existing state universities, some overzealous state governors have increased the rally to two or three.
“The more bizarre cases were governors who brazenly pronounced the creation of three or four state universities in one fell swoop. Nigerians should be worried that state universities, which should serve as an elixir to provision of university education, has turned an albatross for the Nigerian university system.
“Beside non-funding of capital projects, most state governors have also failed in the primary responsibility of regular payment of staff in their universities. Our recent analysis has shown that only five of the state-owned universsities have their monthly subventions corresponding with their monthly wage bills. 17 state universities receive monthly subventions far below the monthly wage bills, thereby forcing these institutions to augment salaries from so-called internally generated revenue (IGR).”
ASUU chief rejected charging of exorbitant tuition fees in state universities, saying “it places university education beyond the reach of common Nigerians.
“It is corrupt to assume that public universities should generate revenues from charges for provision of hostel accommodation, health services, sport facilities, students identity cards or library access.”
The union conceded that Nigeria needs more universities, but added that the establishment of universities should be predicated on sound logic.
Prof Osodeke used the avenue to remind the Federal Governemnt on the “outstanding issues in the memorandum of action (MOA) of December 23, 2020 and the issues related to the draft renegotiated agreement of May 2021.
“ASUU hopes authorities at both Federal and state government levels would give these matters the urgent attention they deserve to sustain and improve on the current industrial peace on our university campuses.
“By the end of August if the governemnt does not implement the agreement reached with ASUU, Nigerians should hold government responsible for whatever happens at the end of the day.”
SOURCE: THE NATION