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Thursday, 26 September 2013

ASUU/FG face-off: Private varsities’ VCs call for truce

WORRIED by the protracted industrial action embarked upon by public university lecturers
under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Vice-Chancellors of private
universities have expressed concern and sympathy for the affected students, noting that there
was need to end the three-month-old impasse between the Federal Government and the
striking lecturers.
The VCs of Bells University of Technology (BELLSTECH), Prof. Isaac Adeyemi; Redeemer’s
University, Prof. Zachariah Adeyewa; Covenant University, Prof. Charles Ayo; and Caleb
University, Professor Ayodeji Olukoju, while expressing their discomfort, noted that Nigeria’s
educational system needs strategic planning and restructuring to regain its lost glory
The VC, Redeemer’s University, Prof. Adeyewa, said “some of my
children are also affected by
the strike and have been pleading with me to send them to private varsities because they are
tired of staying at home. In fact, I want to appreciate parents who are sending their children to
private varsities because they are making a lot of sacrifices. I would have loved all my children
to attend private varsities but I can’t afford the tuition fees.
“We are not happy that some of our children are becoming grand-parents at home because of
the ongoing imbroglio between government and ASUU. The truth is that government and the
citizens are not totally committed as the average parent will want to send his wards to smaller
African countries to acquire education, where they may be lost to foreign cultures.”
Lamenting the unending industrial action by unions in the country’s public tertiary
institutions, BELLSTECH VC, Adeyemi, said parties going into an agreement, especially
between government and staff unions, should put up an implementation strategy that must be
acknowledged by the parties.
“This way, if there are changes in the agreement due to the evolving realities of life, both
parties must be carried along and be willing to re-negotiate. We need to have a holistic view
of the project called Nigeria and agreement should be based on current realities of life
because no situation is static. But I insist that there must be constant interaction and mutual
agreement between both parties.
“If government says this is what she can afford now, the next thing is to agree on an
implementation strategy for the balance. However, we shouldn’t wish away the fact that those
in government are also Nigerians and the good of our education system is their concern. It
takes a lot to fund education and these funds can’t be reared overnight, making strategic
planning necessary to restructure our education system.
Similarly, the VC, Covenant University, Prof. Ayo reiterated the need for a state of emergency
to be declared in the education sector.
“It’s unfortunate that public varsities have been shut-down for over two months, especially at
a time when access to and quality of education in the country are low. ASUU should not be
totally blamed for standing their grounds, because government needs to show more
commitment to education.
“The pertinent question we should ask is- are we able to separate adequate funding of
education and quality because with our paltry percentage of annual budgetary allocation less
than 10 per cent compared to countries like Ghana, South-Africa, our standards will continue
to dwindle. This calls for the need for a state of emergency in the nation’s educational
system.”
On his part, the VC, Caleb University, Professor Olukoju, charged government to prioritize
funding of education, which is a critical sector of the economy.
“Funding of education is the core issue here but government isn’t keeping an agreement that
wasn’t signed under duress. This whole situation is like when someone buys goods on credit
and can’t pay on the date he promised to pay.
“I will suggest that government focuses on funding education rather than spending frivolously
of things that don’t contribute to the economy as education.
On the way forward BELLSTECH VC called on FG/ASUU to device a way to end this protracted
impasse, saying “if government can’t sustain education at tertiary level, it must declare its
position without wasting time because it takes more than just giving peanuts as funds to
education.”
Covenant University VC urged ASUU and government to arrive at a compromise and see how
they can utilize the available funds disbursed to the sector. If the desirable is not available,
the available becomes desirable.
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