COVID-19: ASUU Kicks against Slashing of Health, Education Budgets

By Kemi Olaitan

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against cutting down the budget of health and education sectors in the proposed 2020 revised budget.

This is also as the union said government should not defraud the nation by muddling up budgeted social intervention funds with donated funds meant for palliatives for the vulnerable to cope with COVID-19 which has negatively affected their livelihoods.

The union, in a release signed by the Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, Sunday said the proposed cut by the Buhari government shows the government as totally lacking in understanding of the precarious state of things in Nigeria’s health and education sectors, adding that it is now obvious that the federal government has not learnt anything from the COVID-19.

The federal government is proposing a slash of N50.76 billion from the N111.78 billion budgeted for UBEC to bring it down to N61.02 billion and a cut of N26.51 billion from the N44.49 billion allocated to basic health care to bring it down to N17.98 billion.

Akinwole said a serious and progressive government will not allocate funds for any rehabilitation of government buildings or purchase of buses but will face critical sectors like health and education as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought all political, economic, religious, among other activities, to a halt.

On the palliative being distributed, Akinwole castigated the Buhari government for stopping salaries of lecturers for refusing the quest of the government to break the laws thereby making over 30,000 lecturers and their over 50,000 dependants vulnerable at this time.

He said the distribution of the palliatives seem fraudulent as the reactions from Lagos and other states of the nation indicated that government officials are profiting from the palliative distribution, as the vulnerable people in slums, commercial drivers, Okada riders, food vendors and luggage porters, among others, must be targeted.

The ASUU boss insisted that while the stoppage of salaries to lecturers is a sign of lawlessness and tyranny of the Buhari government, members of the union will not be cowed in their resolve to fight for the revitalisation of public funded education and the sanctity of the laws of the land.

He enjoined federal and state governments to include journalists in palliatives been distributed, stating that over 50 per cent of journalists are not being paid salaries while many are being owed over a year salaries.

According to him, “I have not seen this kind of government. A top government official claimed he never knew our health institution is this precarious and the government that has not allocated sufficient funds to that sector is further reducing it!

“They are also muddling up palliative being distributed. We sense that lack of transparency is ending in fraud and profiteering from the deprivation of the downtrodden. Most Nigerians are on the fringe and any mismanagement of palliative distribution will be counter productive to the fight against the pandemic.”

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