Students of public universities in Nigeria and their parents are yet to get over the over five-month-old strike suspended on December 17 last year by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. The union commenced the strike on July 1, 2013 because of the Federal Government’s failure to implement the 2009 agreement it reached with it.
It was thus disturbing last week when one of the union leaders raised the alarm that the FG was delaying in implementing the fresh agreement it made with the union in 2013. Some stakeholders were particularly angered by the development considering the meetings, appeals and confrontations that took place before the suspension of the 169 days strike.
The National Treasurer of ASUU, Dr. Ademola Aremu, said in Ibadan, Oyo State, that the FG was foot-dragging in the execution of the Memorandum of Understanding on the NEEDS projects it signed with the union.
Aremu said the allocation of the funds claimed to have been lodged at the Central Bank of Nigeria for the execution of the NEEDs projects had not started two months after the suspension of the strike by the union.
He added that the FG should have commenced the process of depositing an extra N55bn for the first quarter based on the MoU signed with President Goodluck Jonathan.
At the meeting, Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter of the union, Dr. Olusegun Ajiboye, also reportedly noted that students were yet to start benefitting from the strike because of the FG’s delay in implementing the agreement.
He also urged the FG not to further delay in implementing its part of the MoU so as to forestall fresh crisis in the nation’s public universities.
The Chairman, Enugu State University of Science and Technology branch of ASUU, Prof. Gabriel, Agu, who said he would not comment on the matter, however said the National Executive Committee of the union would meet to deliberate on some salient issues relating to the union.
He said, “We will wait for the outcome of our NEC meeting before making comment.”
The Education Rights Campaign however noted that it was not surprised at the alarm raised by ASUU. The group said the situation showed what unions like the ASUU and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics including Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union often suffer in the hands of the FG.
Lamenting that the union has consistently been a victim of FG’s insincerity, it advised it to continue to expose the inadequacies of government towards public education.
According to it, the delayed implementation of the MoU is another worrisome indication that more crises are to be expected in the nation’s public university system.
It added, ‘‘Regrettably, instead of increasing, allocation to education suffered a decline in the 2014 appropriation bill. Therefore, even if funds are fully released for the implementation of the MoU, in the long run, not much positive changes would occur in the universities because of the decline in budgetary allocation. Therefore, it is not only the MoU that ASUU should agitate for, it should also fix its gaze at the 2014 appropriation bill with a view to mobilising for improvement in the provisions for education. No one should be deceived.’’