The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday revealed that the Federal Government is already concluding arrangements to force students in public universities in the country to pay atleast N350, 000 tuition fees per session
The Ibadan Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Dr. Ade Adejumo, raised the alarm when he addressed journalists at the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State council, Ibadan.
Adejumo was accompanied by the union’s chairmen from University of Ibadan, Dr. Deji Omole; Osun State University, Dr. Femi Abanikanda; and Investment Secretary of ASUU in UI, Prof Ayo Akinwole.
He noted that, the vehement objection of the union to the proposed tuition fees, actually led to the collapse of 2017/2018 Renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, adding “the union is again constrained to draw the attention of Nigerian public to an impending labour crisis in the Nigerian universities as a result of the insensitivity and non-challance of the Nigerian government to issues critical to the survival of the educational system in Nigeria.”
Giving a background to the crisis, Adejumo said, when the 2009 agreement was overdue for renegotiation, the Federal Government set up a team, led by Dr. Wale Babalakin to renegotiate with the union.
He said, “It is no longer news that the renegotiation, which Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, promised was going to last for only six weeks, has broken down.
“The reason for this very unfortunate development will appall most Nigerians. First, the leader of government team, who was supposed to be an arbiter between the parties, assumed an arrogant attitude that sought to foist a predetermined mindset of government on the union.
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“The union was confronted with a situation where government is bent on imposing tuition fees, beginning from N350,000 on students in the Nigerian public owned tertiary institutions.
“On the question as to how the students will raise such money, the answer that government has is that it will establish an Education Bank, where students will, access credit facilities and pay back on completion of their studies.
“The union, speaking from the background that education is the right and not privilege of every Nigerian child, made frantic efforts to make pragmatic explanations on the negative implications and the non-feasibility of this scheme to representatives of government to no avail.”
According to ASUU, the leader of the government team, Babalakin, has not dropped the proposed new tuition regime, vowing that the union would resist such outrageous tuition. The union described the development as a ploy to deprive poor masses of their rights to education, saying if the Education Bank is established, many students would not be able to access loans. Adejumo further stated that the move was an agenda of some foreign bodies to continually enslave Nigerians, especially the poor ones.
The Ibadan zonal coordinator of ASUU, recalled that the union, “after all avenues to seek the attention of government failed, went on a warning strike in 2017 to press home some demands. At the point at which the warning strike was suspended, our union signed a Memorandum of Action (MOA) with government. The summary of issues in the MOA point to some actionable tasks on the side of government and the union, aimed at redeeming the parlous state of educational sector in the country.
“Unfortunately, we are now back to where we started with the Federal Government’s failure to implement the agreements reached with our union in the MOA.”
Adejumo stated further that the government has always agreed that the condition in the Nigeria University “is a serious state that needs urgent intervention. As a result, government agreed to pay a quarterly intervention N20billion into a dedicated account at the Central Bank of Nigeria to pilot the revitalization scheme. Unexpectedly, government has refused to pay the said amount which has now accrued to N2trillion.
“Instead of releasing the fund that will address the infrastructural deficit in Nigerian universities as agreed, government went to the media last week that it has given N20billion to ASUU! This propaganda of government is unhelpful as ASUU is a union and does not collect money from government.”
Adejumo said some of the other issues that might force ASUU to go on strike are non-release of the forensic report on the disbursement of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) covering the period of 2009 to 2017 to members, failure to pay arrears of shortfall in accrued salaries in universities that have been verified under Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing (PICA), failure to release operational licence to National Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), and needless proliferation of state universities.