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Governors have turned universities into constituency projects – ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has strongly criticised both federal and state governments for what it perceives as the politicisation of education, particularly…

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has strongly criticised both federal and state governments for what it perceives as the politicisation of education, particularly through the proliferation of public universities while neglecting the funding needs of existing ones. 

Dr Melemi Abatcha, chairperson of ASUU at the Federal University Gashua branch in Yobe State, expressed these concerns during a press conference in Damaturu.

Abatcha highlighted how governments, especially at the state level, have treated university education as constituency projects, akin to initiatives politicians bring back to their constituencies. 

This trend, he said, is reflected in the establishment of new universities without adequate funding for existing ones.  He emphasised ASUU’s ongoing concerns regarding insufficient funding for universities and the challenges faced by academic staff.

He noted that the federal government has not fulfilled its promises from 2023, including the allocation of N50 billion for the payment of the backlog of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) and the integration of EAA into salaries from January 2022. 

Despite lecturers covering their workloads during forced strikes, salaries remain withheld, he added. 

In a related development, seven public universities in the South West and South South zones, under ASUU’s Benin Zone, have threatened to embark on a strike due to unresolved issues with the government. 

Professor Monday Igbafen, the Zonal Coordinator, outlined these issues, including stalled renegotiation of agreements, funding for university revitalisation, illegal dissolution of governing councils, withheld salaries, and non-implementation of agreements.

He said the failure of governments to resolve the union’s demands as well as a lack of sincerity on its part have worsened the living and working conditions of academic staff in the public universities across the country.

He said though the federal government hastily reconstituted controversial governing councils of federal universities after 11 months of illegal dissolution, some state governments have remained adamant to the contrary.

He said the absence of governing councils in the universities has led to unthinkable aberrations with the introduction of obnoxious policies that are antithetical to university culture.

Similarly, ASUU’s Modibbo Adama University (MAU) Yola branch expressed frustration over the government’s failure to implement agreements from 2017 to 2022. 

Chairperson El-Maude, J.G., at a press conference yesterday, said the neglect of public education has resulted in demoralised and underpaid academic staff.

 

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