Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Seriake Dickson, Tuesday disclosed that the state government could no longer continue funding the state-owned Niger Delta University in Wilberforce Island, Amassoma.
Dickson, who spoke during a meeting with the Governing Council and principal officers of NDU in Government House, Yenagoa, noted that he could not sustain the existing funding system owing to the present poor financial standing of the state.
He called on the striking workers and management of the only state-owned university in the state to be more resourceful and innovative in generating revenue for the institution.
The governor noted that a situation where the state government’s monthly subvention of about N480 million is spent on only the university’s recurrent expenditure was ‘unsustainable’.
He harped on the need for the university leadership to be prudent in the use of funds, with a view to enabling the institution gain some degree of financial autonomy.
Dickson called on the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), to call off the ongoing strike action caused by the sharp drop in state revenues.
Describing the current non-academic staff strength of 2,502 as unacceptable, Governor Dickson frowned on the practice where the university asserts its autonomy only in the area of employment, but passes all salary obligations to the state government.
“At the inauguration of the NDU Governing Council four years ago, we laid out our vision of what our university should be. We realised that it was going to be unsustainable to have the situation we met, whereby the university with its very high recurrent wage bill will be drawing its salaries on a monthly basis from the government.
‘’A situation where the university will employ as they wish and then transfer the salaries to the state government can no longer be sustained.
“Our vision, moving forward, is for an NDU that is properly organised and run as a university that can stand the test of time irrespective of the economic vicissitudes that may afflict our stat,’’ the governor said.
Commissioner for Education in the state, Mr. Markson Fefegha, argued that the NDU was probably the only university in the country that entirely depends on government’s subvention for all of its operations.
He added that though government appreciates the contributions of the university community, the system of funding for the institution would have to be restructured.
However, Chairman, Governing Council of the university, Prof. Turner Isoun and Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Humphrey Ogoni, while appealing to the government, agreed that immediate implementation of autonomy would result in the escalation of tuition fees.