The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU on Tuesday picked holes in allocation to tertiary institutions in the proposed 2016 budget even as it warned of looming industrial unrest in the Nigerian university system as a result of poor funding, nonpayment of staff salaries and breach of the agreement it reached with the Federal government IN 2009.
ASUU also lamented that the Federal Government has failed to keep to the terms of agreement it reached with academic union in 2009 on funding of the universities at a press conference in which it also made public its opinion on contemporary national issues.
Nasir Isa Fagge, the President of the Union who addressed the press conference in company of other officers lamented that the Federal Government has refused to implement many provisions of the 2009 ASUU/FGN agreement.
Indeed, the Union said some recent actions of Federal Government will indicate a unilateral abrogation of some parts of the agreement, citing the directive of government to Vice Chancellors to remove staff of University Staff Schools from the nominal payroll of their institutions as instances of the violations of the agreement as example.
ASUU said the directive is in contrast to the Section 3.3(ix)a of the FGN/ASUU Agreement of 2009 which states that ”The University shall bear the full capital and recurrent costs of University Staff Primary Schools (as in the May 29 Agreement).”
Contrary to this provision of the agreement, ASUU President said at the press conference that the Federal government sent an unsigned memo to Vice Chancellors of universities asking them to remove personnel and teachers of the staff schools from their nominal pay rolls with threats to punish any head of institution who refused to heed the directive.
According to Dr Isa Fagge, there are also other aspects of the agreement which have been neglected and which government needs to address urgently to ensure continuous smooth running of the university system.
“Some of these include payment of outstanding Earned Academic Allowances, EAA, establishment of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company, and commencement of the negotiation of the agreement,” said the ASUU President.
Failure of government to retrace its steps as regards to implementation of the agreement, he warned, may result in disruption of the academic system. The ASUU President said the lecturers have so far kept to their side of the bargain.
“But patience of our members are running out. Obviously, insincerity on the part of government, in the light of the MoU it signed with ASUU in November 2013 is beginning to dampen the morale of our members nation wide and may threaten the fragile industrial peace on our university campuses if government fails to act expeditiously,” said Dr. Isa Fagge.
On the 2016 budget, ASUU noted that the eight per cent total allocation to the education sector in the N6.08 trillion appropriation plan ran contrary to the agreement of ASUU with government to progressively increase the budgetary allocation to 26 per cent as recommended by UNESCO. The Union also noted that the paltry allocation ran contrary to the intent of government to give free higher education to students of science and technology at the tertiary education level.
The Union pointed out that this is because the allocation is skewed in favour of Federal Government Secondary Schools and Federal Ministry of Education headquarters.
“The cumulative capital appropriation to Federal Secondary Schools was 230 per cent higher than that of tertiary institutions put together,” Dr Fagge said. He added that 34 out of 39 universities were allocated the same capital vote of N53.7million irrespective of their varying needs.
In contrast, the ASUU President noted that the sum of N549 million was allocated for the procurement of computers by the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education, FME.
The Union noted that over N1.255 billion was allocated for procurement of utility vehicles, N273 million for maintenance of FME website while over N1.9 billion was allocated for acquiring 17 Quality Assurance Offices.
ASUU also noted that while over N430 million and N920 million were voted for research and development at FME Headquarters and National Teachers Institute respectively, none of the universities was allocated a single kobo for research.