By Iyabo Lawal, Guardian
APART from the initial N200 billion released in 2013, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) disclosed yesterday that the Federal Government has not released the N1.3 trillion NEEDS intervention fund it promised the union.
National Chairman of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge, and Chairman, University of Ibadan (UI) chapter, Prof. Segun Ajiboye, said that government failed to release any fund in 2014 just as the first quarter of 2015 has ended without anything.
Speaking at the UI 63rd Interdisciplinary Discourse, ASUU noted that the reasons for the union’s 21-day strike have remained, while government has failed to honour the agreement it freely signed with the union.
According to Fagge, universities are microcosms of the Nigerian society, and government policies have ensured that the university system can only produce poor leaders, who lack empathy and are disconnected from current realities due to the irrelevant curriculum.
While the Federal Government continues to cripple the operation of public universities through under funding, he observed, the effects of such deliberate action is the attendant unemployable graduates, who are “lacking in basic social, emotional and literacy skills.”
Speaking on the topic, “ASUU Struggles and the Revitalisation of Public University Education in Nigeria,” Fagge, who was represented by ASUU’s vice chairman, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the condition fuelling the union’s strikes included poor funding, inadequate remuneration, inadequate capacity, brain drain, poor infrastructure, violation of university autonomy and academic freedom.
The others, he noted, include failure of government to implement recommendations of its own review panels, violation of agreements it freely enters into, inconsistent policies and poor planning, corruption and poor management of funds by university administrators.
Rather than funding public education, he lamented, the Federal Government is preaching internal generation of funds by universities, a condition that now “drives the numerous awards given by universities at convocations, lecture for hire practice by departments who provide intellectual laundry for politicians to present lectures for donations, and unending distinguished personality lectures by individuals who ought to be in jail.”
Therefore, “its failure to implement its own reports as well as the repetitive nature of the grounds for strike corroborate the view that the crisis in the university is a systematic if not a carefully designed agenda to paralyse public university education in order to make way for a market-based privatisation of university education.
UI’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who disclosed that the institution has benefited so much from ASUU struggles, urged the union to keep university administrators on their toes and monitor their operations.