N470bn Allocation Not Enough To Solve Varsity Problems
The Federal Government’s N470 billion budget allocation for the following year, according to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Congress of University Academics, CONUA, is insufficient to address the issues facing the nation’s public universities.
The instructors claim that collective bargaining, which results in an agreement that would be strictly carried out by the parties involved, can be helpful.
The unions responded to the president’s remarks at the Obafemi Awolowo University convocation in Ile Ife, Osun State, where he indicated that the money had been included in the budget for the following year and that it would hopefully put an end to strikes in public universities.
He was represented on the occasion by the Director of Academic Planning, National Universities Commission, NUC, Dr Abiodun Saliu.
The National Coordinator, CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, said even if such an amount was released, it would merely be a flash in the pan.
“The issues we are taking about are in two main categories – welfare and funding cum provision of facilities. Welfare has to do with salaries, allowances etc. Funding has to do with the provision of modern facilities to make our universities be at par with their counterparts globally. But I don’t know in what context the President spoke.
“If it has to do with the provision of facilities, then that amount would just be a mere flash in the pan. Let them release it, if it is for upgrading facilities, though it is not significant, we would be able to see what is next to tackle in that aspect,” he stated
The ASUU Chairman, University of Ilorin, Prof. Moyosore Ajao, noted that government seems to relish in banding figures all about.
“They have been saying all sorts of things. What they are talking about is probably jerking up salaries and allowances of university workers. That is not what we are demanding. We are not seeking award. What they want to do is mere award. As a union, our position is that there should be collective bargaining and an agreement signed by the parties.
“So, if they say we are giving this set of university workers N100 billion and another set N200 billion for 2023, without an agreement making that binding on the parties, how would it be sustained? If another person comes and says in 2024 he cannot pay this or that, how would he be faulted because there is no agreement on ground to compel him to obey.
“Moreover, the issues are mote than salaries or allowances or somebody just sitting down somewhere and awarding university workers whatever he likes. What about the provision of facilities? Is it from that amount that all those things would be done? They need to be serious and take the issue of education serious,” he noted.
On why universities lecturers have not gone on strike over their eight months withheld salaries, Sunmonu said CONUA opted for the legal action to test the provisions of the Trade Dispute Act in court.
“When we said we are going to court because of it, we didn’t speak out of the blues. Going on strike will be injurious to our students who are not the cause of the salaries being withheld. We have considered all scenarios and we came to the conclusion that it is better to approach the court and see what will come out of it.
“If the court rules in our favour and says we should be paid our salaries, we want to see if the government would have any choice other than to obey. We want to see if the government will flout the ruling or order of the court,” he explained.
Recall that public universities were shut for months due to the strike by lecturers and non-academic staff.
The government has because of that refused to pay the lecturers eight months salaries spanning the period they did not work, while non-teaching staff have five months salaries being withheld.
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