Crisis looming in varsities, ASUU warns

EDUCATION-text
Accuses govt of reneging on 2009 agreement

Academic activities in public universities may again be disrupted following the decline in subvention to the universities across the country. This is as funding to states and federal universities continues to decline, with most universities now unable to pay salaries regularly.

The Calabar Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), in a statement issued in Calabar, Cross River State, expressed fear over the looming crisis in the system if the situation was not urgently arrested.

In the statement jointly signed by the Zonal Coordinator of the union, Dr. Nsing Ogar as well as branch chairmen in the zone including Dr. Tony Eyang of the University of Calabar (UNICAL); Dr. Aniekan Brown of University of Uyo (UNIUYO); Dr. Stephen Ochang, from the Cross River State University of Technology (CRUTECH); Mr. Ochi Ejimofor of Abia State University (ABSU); Prof. Ndubuisis Idenyi of Ebonyi State University (EBSU) and Dr. Ime Okop from Akwa Ibom State University, the union noted with concern, the “cloud of uncertainty” hanging over Nigerian universities.

The union, which maintained that subventions to universities have been drastically reduced, resulting “in the incomplete payment of salaries and non-remittance of statutory deductions to unions,” added that, “This anomaly has thrown workers in the university system into serious difficulties and embarrassment as if the already existing ugly situation in the universities in terms of workers’ welfare and poor condition for research, teaching and learning were not enough.”

The ASUU accuses states and federal governments of deliberately neglecting university education in the country, stressing that efforts by the union to draw government’s attention to the plight of universities in the country has yielded no positive result.

“It has therefore become pertinent to let the public know this with a view to prevailing on government to do the needful by releasing the complete subventions to universities, including the backlog owed.”

It would be recalled that ASUU Abuja Zone, also recently expressed displeasure over cut in allocation for personnel expenditure to federal universities by the Federal Government.

The Abuja Zonal Coordinator of the union, Suleiman Muhammed, while briefing journalists on Sunday in Abuja, said that the cut has adversely affected the union.

ASUU Abuja Zone comprises University of Abuja, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nasarawa State University, Keffi and Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State.

The chairman who claimed that relevant authorities like the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office seemed not to understand how the university system works, added, “With deeply worrisome concerns, ASUU-Abuja Zone wishes to bring to the notice of the general public the unilateral drastic cut by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the personnel expenditure allocations to federal universities across the country…This ugly phenomenon began in December 2015; one of the federal universities which received allocation of a little over N336 million in Dec. 2015, has consistently received about N308 million for the months of January through March, 2016,” he said.

In another development, ASUU has condemned the Federal Government’s decision to lay off workers of university staff schools across the country.

Last year, the government directed vice chancellors of federal universities to relief staff members of the schools of their appointments, and the decision drew the ire of the union, which said in a statement that government’s decision to shut down the schools was a clear breach of the 2009 agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government.



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