From Tony Osauzo, Benin
With the enormous financial requirements of Universities, a University can spend the sum of one billion naira in a week to run the system without seeing any tangible projects to show for it.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Lilian Salami, who stated this at the 2nd Regular Zonal Executive Council Meeting of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), South-South, held in UNIBEN, also lamented that the Nigerian universities are not being funded adequately.
She said the present economic period is not the best period for anyone to be a vice chancellor, adding that members of the university had labelled her “Manager of araldite company.
“Until I became the vice chancellor, nobody could have told me that on that table, you can spend N1 billion in a week and yet, you cannot see something quantifiable to show for it.
“It is always one roof is blown, there is no light, there is no water, there is no road, there is no anything”, Professor Salami said.
She commented on how members of staff of the university perceive her and said, “most of them call me the manager of araldite company. You know what araldite does? It is the glue. So it is good that you educate them at the end of this meeting, to tell them that this is the worst time for anyone to be a Vice Chancellor.
“Because one is truly working with the slimmest resources that can be available to any CEO. And it is not just University of Benin; but all public institutions, which of course you are also part of. You know we are not being funded in the university well. What we are getting is just salary, which is good. But you still have to drive the system”, Prof. Salami said.
She, however, expressed confidence in the ability of the SSANU leadership to explain the predicament to their members, hoping that “by the time you finish with them, I will be a worker in the araldite company and not the Managing Director”.
Meanwhile, the National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, has lamented that the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) into the university payroll system had further impoverished SSANU members in the university community.
Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, who stated this in Benin yesterday, while speaking at the 2nd Regular Zonal Executive Council meeting of SSANU, South-South, held at the Akin Demo Hall of UNIBEN, lamented that Nigerians were told a different story about what IPPIS is actually about.
He explained that due to the implementation of IPPIS, several allowances the association’s members are entitled to are being denied, adding that they could no longer access money they made through their multi-purpose co-operatives.
He added that IPPIS had denied vice chancellors of universities the ability to employ even a single member of staff, thus making a mess of the much talked about university autonomy.
“No Vice Chancellor can employ a single staff today in our universities. If vice chancellors can no longer employ a single staff, then where is the university autonomy?.
“For us as a union, our highest predicament presently is the continuous denials of our members privileges and rights by the Federal Government of Nigeria. We signed an agreement with the Federal Government since 2009, going to 11 years now, less than 10% of that agreement has been implemented.
“Our allowances are being taken for granted. The contribution we make through our multi-purpose corporative, the money is not accessible. This gives us doubt about the anti corruption fight professed by this government. And the worst, these money is not remitted.
“Our members are seriously suffering financially and economically because of the mutilation we are witnessing in our salaries. When we key into IPPIS, it was with a clear vision. Our leaders then told us that this is an opportunity where university staff will have it easy accesing their salaries, but what we are seeing today is contrary”, Comrade Ibrahim regretted.
On insecurity bedeviling the nation, Comrade Ibrahim said the university community is no longer safe for its members, lamenting that many of universities staff had fallen victim of kidnapping or armed robbery.
He, therefore, recommended that government should empower universities security staff with licensed arms and ammunition and to also retrain them so that they could stand the insecurity challenges in the university community.