By Kemi Olaitan
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday cautioned the federal government against slashing the budgets of health and education sectors in the proposed 2020 revised budget.
The union also urged the federal government not to shortchange Nigerians by muddling up the budgeted social intervention funds with donated funds meant for palliatives for the vulnerable to cope with COVID-19 pandemic.
The union, in a statement by the Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, said the proposed budgetary cut by the federal government showed that the government lacked an understanding of the precarious state of things in Nigeria’s health and education sectors.
The union explained that it’s obvious that the federal government has not learnt anything from the COVID-19.
According to the union, 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.
But Akinwole said a serious and progressive government would not allocate funds for any rehabilitation of government buildings or purchase of buses, but face critical sectors like health and education.
He also criticised the federal government for stopping salaries of lecturers for refusing to join the payment platform, Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS ) and making over 30,000 lecturers and their dependants vulnerable at this time.
He said the distribution of the palliatives was fraudulent as the reactions from Lagos and other states indicated that government officials were profiteering from palliative distribution.
ASUU stated that vulnerable people in slums, commercial drivers, food vendors, luggage porters among others must be targeted.
He also urged the federal and state governments to extend the distribution of the palliatives to journalists because over 50 per cent of journalists are not being paid salaries, while many are being owed over a year salaries.
“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 palliatives 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 counterproductive to the fight against the pandemic,” he alleged.