Otti Wants ASUU to Lead Initiative for Abia Varsity’s Financial Autonomy

Otti Wants ASUU to Lead Initiative for Abia Varsity’s Financial Autonomy

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been challenged to evolve means of making the Abia State University Uturu (ABSU) financially independent.

The state Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, threw the challenge at the union members during a meeting with the executives of ASUU-ABSU, saying the state-owned ivory tower was old enough to have started fending for itself.

He said it was not sustainable for ABSU to rely solely on government subventions for survival, adding that the academic staff should be at the vanguard of the move to attain financial autonomy.

Otti said: “It is important that we put on our thinking cap and remove our begging cap because this idea of begging is the problem that we have in Nigeria.

“Even as a country, we keep begging, we keep borrowing and we need to think of being financially independent.”

He told the ASUU-ABSU leadership led by the Zonal Coordinator (ASUU National), Calabar Zone, Dr. Happiness Uduak, that “even from research alone, the university should be able to generate sufficient resources to attend to some of its needs.

“We need to begin to think of how to make our universities financially independent. Let us re-channel our ABSU-ASUU to begin to think of how they can contribute to making the university independent, and I will support you.”

According to him, “If there is anything happening in the university(in areas of research and innovations), the institution would be buoyant enough, hence “we need to think in that direction because it is more sustainable.”

The governor assured the leadership of ASUU that his government would look into the problems of the institution, resolve them and make ABSU stand out among its peers.

He said the demands that the ASUU leaders tabled before him were not unreasonable, though a lot needed to be done, adding that the government would do everything within its capacity to meet the needs of the university.

Otti expressed surprise over “18 months’ salary differential” the union said its members in ABSU were being owed between 2009- and 2010, in addition to 11 months’ salary arrears owed the lecturers by the immediate-past administration.

The governor promised to meet with the ABSU management to iron out a number of issues, including strengthening the corporate governance of the institution.

He said he would set up a visitation panel to the university and also look into the possibility of enhancing ABSU’s subvention as requested by the union leadership.

Dr. Uduak, however,  had earlier expressed ASUU members’ gratitude to Governor Otti for the infrastructural transformation being witnessed in the state, some of which have impacted on ABSU community.

She commended Otti for the prompt release of the monthly subventions of the university thereby paving the way for industrial harmony between the government and the union.

The ASUU zonal coordinator informed the governor of the 11 months outstanding salaries from 2022 owed members of ASUU-ABSU, and appealed for renegotiation of their salaries and upward review of university’s subvention.

She spoke about some anomalies in running ABSU, hence, the need for the government to set up a visitation panel to the institution, adding that the deplorable Okigwe-Uturu road leading to the institution needs rehabilitation.

Corroborating the zonal leader, the Chairperson of ASUU-ABSU, Dr. Chidi Mbah, stated in his remarks that things were not going well in the university.

He, therefore, called on Governor Otti to personally visit ABSU to a first-hand appreciation of the enormity of the problems in the institution.

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