Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has raised the alarm over what it called government’s programme to undermine public universities in the country.
Raising the alarm, on Friday, in Awka, ASUU Owerri zone, said there was a deliberate policy on the part of government to undermine public universities to give attention to private universities.
The zone’s ASUU rose from its meeting, in Awka, where it deliberated on the worrisome situation at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomosho (LAUTECH), jointly owned by Osun and Oyo states.
At a press briefing, ASUU conal coordinator, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, who addressed newsmen on the LAUTECH issue, said Nigeria has all it takes to adequately fund education but for leakages in the system.
According to him, “We believe that the Nigerian government has the ability and capability to adequately fund education, the challenge we have is that there is too much leakages in the system, leakages into private coffers and our contention is that if these leakages could be blocked, there will be adequate funds to fund education in Nigeria.
“There’s also this programme by government to undermine public universities. Here, as we speak, there are more private universities in Nigeria than there are public universities.
“It is a deliberate policy on the part of government to ensure that public universities are undermined, and then divert attention to private universities.
“Of course, we are also aware that most of these private universities are owned by these people in political authority. And for these private universities, they are commercial activity; they don’t see it as a social service.
“The proprietors are in them for profit and you cannot provide educational service from the point of view of profit because the benefits of education cannot be quantified in monetary terms.
“So, our position is that if we contain leakages in the system, if we contain waste, education can be funded at all levels.”
He stressed that the problem in LAUTECH could have been resolved if the two states were sincere to promote the education of their people and urged governors Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola to take the training and education of Nigerian children more seriously by adequately funding LAUTECH.
He said, “This could have been resolved by saying Oyo State, if that university is on your land take the fixed assets of that university, Osun State, the university is not on your land take the movable assets which you can move to your own state.
“As we speak today, Oyo State is establishing a new university whereas the one that is jointly own is grossly underfunded. I think there is a political issue that needs to be addressed by the two states.
“The festering case of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomosho (LAUTECH) jointly owned by Osun and Oyo State, is particularly pathetic and very worrisome.
“LAUTECH has continued to have problems of very poor funding since 2013 due to failure by owner state governments of Oyo and Osun, to take responsibility of funding the University.
“LAUTECH has for long not received subvention and presently depends solely on funds from tuition. The University currently owes staff ten months salary arrears, 2013-2017 promotion arrears and 2009-2017 Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
“There is no evidence of infrastructural development of LAUTECH since the inception of the present governments of Oyo and Osun States.
“In view of this ugly situation, staff, students of the University as well as their parents and sponsors have been subjected to untold hardship.
“Our union has continued to bring up issues of concern about the governance of our Universities and the nation because they form part of our professional and moral responsibility as enshrined in our Constitution.
“Once again, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Owerri Zone, calls on members of the public and well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the governments of Oyo and Osun States to take the training and education of Nigerian children more seriously by adequately funding LAUTECH and addressing all the welfare issues of all stakeholders in the university.”