Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Federal Government(FG) Deposits N200 Billion Naira Varsity Funds with CBN, Shifts Deadline for Lecturers' Resumption

The federal government has opened an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in which it has deposited N200 billion being part of the funds earmarked to tackle the rot in the nation's university..... The presidency disclosed Tuesday.

The lodgement, it added, was part of efforts to fulfil the promise President Goodluck Jonathan made to the Academic Staff of Union Universities (ASUU) during their marathon meeting in November.



The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie, confirmed this on Tuesday.

The amount is for renewal of infrastructure in the nation’s public universities.

Okupe, who featured on Channels Television programme ‘Sunrise Daily,’ said from the government’s perspective, everything that needed to be done had been done.

According to him, many of the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have been agreed upon at the 13-hour meeting the union had with President Goodluck Jonathan which ended in the early hours of October 4.

“At the end of that meeting, the government proposed that everything that has been agreed should be put in a Memorandum of Understanding and that the two parties should sign. But the leadership of ASUU declined and said instead of that, they would rather have a letter expressing everything that has been resolved therein, and that will suffice for them.”

Okupe stressed that the attitude of the ASUU leadership showed that the seed of discord and evidence of bad faith already existed.

“It is unfortunate that somebody died but notwithstanding, that cannot be a justification for delaying the implementation of an agreement for 21 or more days.

At a briefing in Abuja, Okojie, who also said the money had been deposited in CBN, noted that the Coordinating Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had confirmed to him that the money had been deposited in the CBN.

ASUU had requested  evidence that the money had been released as a condition to suspend the strike.

Okojie, who claimed that ASUU did not seek clarification from the commission, however said, such money could not be distributed directly to universities.

“You don’t disburse such funds to institutions; it is not earned allowance. The minister of finance said since they opened the account, the money had been deposited there. If there was any doubt, NUC is here they (ASUU) could have asked the question,” he said.

The NUC boss also revealed that government had directed vice-chancellors of federal universities to extend the resumption deadline for lecturers to December 9 to allow ASUU members to attend the burial ceremony of Prof. Festus Iyayi.

Iyayi, a former ASUU president died in a motor accident on November 12 while going to Kano for the union’s National Executive Council meeting.

The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, at a briefing in Abuja on Thursday, had warned that any lecturer that failed to resume on or before Wednesday (today) would be sacked.

But Okojie claimed that government was not aware of the burial arrangement when the deadline was issued.

“Council has been directed to shift the deadline to December 9 to allow those who have travelled to come back. That letter was only received yesterday from the burial committee which I also forwarded to the Minister of Education”, he said.

Okojie promised that lecturers that resumed by December 9 would be paid their salary arrears.

“For those who resumed by December 9, their salary arrears will be paid. We can’t pay someone who is on strike salary. In a democracy, those who want to work should be allowed to work,” he added.

Okojie, who admitted that ASUU and the Federal Government discussed the issue of renegotiation, maintained that it was not supposed to be included in the Memorandum of Understanding as demanded by the union.

According to him, either of the parties could call for renegotiation at any time.

Asked why the non-victimisation clause was not included in the MoU as pointed out by ASUU, Okojie said the issue was not discussed at the meeting with the President, so could not have formed part of the resolution.

He wondered why the union turned around to raise the issue when it “never arose” at their meeting.

The NUC boss claimed that ASUU went away after the meeting with the President with the mind that strike would be called off on Friday only “to come back to say you (government) didn’t include it.”

“We are saying that if there was an issue, it would have been resolved. To come back after three weeks means we are going back. The issue of non-victimisation clause never arose,” he insisted.

He, however, promised that the government would not victimise anybody for his role in the strike.

“Government is not going to victimise anybody. Because of the mood that day, nobody thought about it. The President shook hands with everybody on that day. The letter was written that night, they also vetted it.

“Government will not victimise anybody. If any government is going to do that it is not Jonathan’s government”, he assured.

But ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, who said the decision had not been communicated to the union, expressed doubt about the sincerity of government.

He wondered why government instead of responding to the letter of the union went public that it had deposited the N200bn in the CBN.

He said, “What they are doing is that they will tell you something when in actual fact they have not done anything. There were previous times when they will call the public on a matter only for us to find out that it has not been done. If they have done it, what is wrong in them answering our letter? Why are they going to the public when we that they are supposed to respond to we don’t know.”

Our educational system is on the serious decline, and therefore need an urgent intervention. If Government fails to take drastic action now to resolve this lingering Canker Worm eating deep and destroying our Educational system, then the last will never be heard of more strikes. Government should give our Higher institutions autonomy, then stay not too far to monitor their activities. I would like a situation where our Higher Institutions manage and control the affairs of their respective Institutions so that they will not have anyone to blame, if they fail.

Government should have a budget for students in the area of subsidizing their tuition fees, and the Institutions, in the area of support for Infrastructural development. Any fund given to any Institution should be monitored and public scrutiny be allowed on how it was spent.

We must start doing things right now or never. Charity must start at home. We must drive purity home. Government allowed corruption to bite so deep into both systems. Non is sincere with it’s presentation. People want to enrich themselves through every possible opportunity. Nobody cares of the possible effect on others. Remember that ‘he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands’.

My advice is that both the Government and ASUU should present/appoint people to monitor proper utilization of the fund purposely for its targeted goal, as provided and at the end of every quarter of the year make publication on how their Fund was spent. I rest my case!

2 comments:

  1. Am just dancing here cos I can't wait to resume school on Monday

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