As the national strike led by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) enters its second week, the negotiating team of the Federal Government has decried ASUU’s insistence to go on strike and cripple the educational system.
The Chairman of Federal Government Negotiating Team, Dr Wale Babalakin in a media parley with journalists at the weekend in Lagos debunked the rumour allegedly being peddled by ASUU members that the FG team he leads want to impose a higher tuition fees on the students.
Babalakin regrets the manner that ASUU is going about spreading falsehood including the UNESCO policy that the educational sector must be funded by the 26 per cent of National Budget.
Speaking at the media brief held at the weekend in Lagos, Dr Babalakin said, “We don’t know where they got the information and figures from that we are trying to impose fees on the Universities. Prof Lawan said we want to increase tuition fees to five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) while Professor Adejumo said we are trying to hike the tuition fees to three hundred and fifty thousand naira (N350,000).
‘’ We don’t have the mandate to impose school fees on the students. Our assignment is to see to the funding of the system in a way that is convenient for the federal government and the students.”
In a statement available to LEADERSHIP Newspaper, ratified and signed by the five negotiating committee members of the Federal Government stated that there was a need to measure the level of impact of the funding being received by our public universities through the identification and measurement of some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in line with the practice in developed and most developing economies.
They said, “Going by the figures provided by ASUU, Nigeria requires over two trillion naira per annum to fund university education. This figure exceeds in value the total amount of money available for all capital projects in Nigeria including Health, Infrastructure, Security and others. No doubt that if the money were available for university education as ASUU has insisted it is, the government will have no difficulty in spending it on university education. However as it is, government cannot ignore all other areas of expenditure that require funding.
“The National Council of Education appreciates this position and has directed that student loan schemes be set up by the various state governments. It has also supported the idea of an Education Bank which would provide soft loans for students seeking to obtain university education.’’
They appealed to ASUU to go back to the negotiating table and stop personalizing the situation.