ASUU: Ruling Class Causing Hardship to Lecturers, Students to Destroy Public Varsities

ASUU: Ruling Class Causing Hardship to Lecturers, Students to Destroy Public Varsities

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

The Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) yesterday raised the alarm over alleged deliberate moves by the ruling political class to destroy Nigeria’s public universities by “piling hardships” on lecturers and students.

ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke warned of what he termed a looming danger, at a press conference held at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike(MOUAU), Abia State.

He said that the ploy was to kill off public universities to pave the way for private universities to thrive just like the public primary and secondary schools were killed and the private ones sprung up to dominate the levels of education.

Osodeke said that the National Executive Council(NEC) of ASUU held its meeting at the weekend at the Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State during which it reviewed its engagements with federal and state governments and was “seriously alarmed” at the worsening situations.

He noted that ASUU had continued to engage with government “on how to reposition Nigeria’s public universities for global reckoning by arresting the living and working conditions in the universities and the nation at large”.

However, the ASUU president lamented that instead of seeing reason with the Nigerian academics, the ruling class with investments in private education has decided to adopt “chronic pauperisation and failed promises” to emasculate the ivory towers.

He said: “It appears members of the Nigerian ruling class are totally indifferent to the implications of the continued pauperisation of academics for the Nigerian dream and the future of the country.

“If they truly love Nigeria, they must have realised that no nation can truly be greater than the quality and commitment of its scholars.

“In other climes of nationalist-politicians and patriots, no government takes deliberate steps to kill the collective bargaining principle nor ignore the patriotic demands of its academics”.

Osodeke said that the engagements of ASUU with the present government of Bola Tinubu has yielded no positive results but a harvest of “failed promises” as it has continued with the “serial insensitivity” of past governments.

As a mark of goodwill and assured hope for Nigeria’s public universities, ASUU “for the umpteenth time” called on the Tinubu administration to set in motion the process of reviewing and signing the Nimi Briggs-led renegotiated draft agreement.

Osodeke stated that ASUU had been without a renegotiated agreement with the federal government since 2009 and past efforts were scuttled by government’s refusal to sign the draft agreement.

“Nigerian academics are tired of platitudes laced with disdain for intellectuals; only concrete steps to restore their eroded dignity and degraded lives can guarantee lasting peace on our campuses,” he said.

On the hike in fees, the ASUU leader stated that NEC condemns in its entirety the wave of fee hike without inputs of the victims across our campuses, adding that it would jeopardise aspirations of many students.

He insisted that students and their parents would have been saved the additional burden of hiked fees had the federal government kept faith with the agreement 2013 which provided for N1.3 trillion over a period of six years.

Osodeke asserted that daily scandalous reports of stupendous funds diverted from government treasuries at state and federal levels have continued to reinforce their belief that resources available to the country could support government-funded university education.

He listed other unresolved ASUU grievances to include withheld seven and half months salary in federal universities and varying months in state universities, arrears of earned academic allowances, illegal dissolution of governing councils and Integrated Personnel And Payroll Information System(IPPS).

“We call on other patriots in the media, labour movement, student groups and civil society organisations to join our resolve to reposition the Nigerian university system for a transformed Nigeria,” the ASUU leader said.

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