The Academic Staff Union of Universities through the President of the Union has demanded that the Federal Government start a brand new renegotiation process over the 2017 agreement rather than trying to avoid their responsibilities in the education sector.
According to the President of the Union, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, while he was speaking in an interview with newsmen, the Federal Government up till date has failed to implement three areas in the Memorandum of Action which was signed with the Union on September 14, 2017.
In the course of the interview, The President of ASUU stated that some of the major failures on the part of the Federal Government concerning the 2017 Agreement include failure by to carry out the Forensic Audit of the earned academic allowances of the lecturers since 2017 and the payment of N20bn out of an agreed N220bn annually.
Professor Ogunyemi emphasised that there is an urgent need for the Federal Government to start a proper renegotiation with the Union in order to improve the University system which he described as grossly underfunded.
Below is an extract of Professor Ogunyemi’s statement;
“One year after we met with the Federal Government and signed a Memorandum of Action, there are three or four areas that have not been implemented. When we met with the government in September 2017, after the industrial action, a significant part of the MOA was that government would carry out a forensic audit of the earned academic allowances of our members and start to process the payments.
“In spite of the fact that the government promised to complete the audit within a few weeks, it has not been completed till date and the report has not been communicated to us.
“Although Nigerians read in the newspapers that N20bn was released for the revitalisation of universities recently, we are saying that the money was too little and it came too late. What we agreed on was that the government would release N220bn annually for five years to the universities for their revitalisation. Then the government promised that, to prove its commitment, it would release the sum of N20bn in 2017.
“It fulfilled the promise by releasing exactly that sum of money in September 2018, instead of the N220bn that we agreed on. So, these are the issues on the ground. We want a renegotiation with the government to clear all these grey areas. They are not the best for our university system.”
It will be recalled that on September 24, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed announced that the Federal Government had approved the release of N20bn to the education sector as part of the promise of the government to revitalise public universities across Nigeria.
However, ASUU noted that the N20bn ought to have approved and released since September 2017 if the government was truly committed to its agreement to revitalise the university system.