THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday accused the Federal Government of being responsible for the backwardness of education in the country which had affected its global rating.
ASUU lamented that instead of the budgetary allocation to improve, it was only reducing and called on the government to commence the process for the payment of N623 billion, being backlog of earned academic allowances and funding of universities.
National President of ASUU, Comrade Biodun Ogunyemi, while briefing journalists in Abuja, also kicked against the proposed plan by the federal government to scrap the post-University Matriculation Tertiary Examination, saying the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board, JAMB, could not admit students for universities.
He frowned on the alleged continuous breach of various Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed between the government and ASUU between 2009 and 2015, adding that the Federal Government was in arrears of N495 billion as at the first quarter of 2016, in respect of the NEEDS assessment fund for the revitalisation of public universities.
He further accused the Federal Government of failing to disburse the outstanding balance of N65,833,047,372.24 (2009-2013), in addition to N62,417,645,224.23 (2014-2016) amounting to N128,250,692,596.47 as contained in the report of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement implementation Committee, IMC.
Ogunyemi warned against undue and further delay in the implementation of various agreements signed between both parties. ASUU strongly condemned the decision by the federal government to scrap the conduct of POST-UME, saying the decision did not serve the interest of Nigerians and that the university tertiary matriculation examination, UTME, conducted by JAMB is not credible enough to warrant the cancellation of the post UTME tests.
Ogunyemi said the action by government was typical of its current lukewarm attitude towards the spirit and letters of the FGN/ASUU agreement of 2009, vowing that the union as an important stakeholder in the university system will continue to draw the attention of all concerned to possible threat to peaceful development and growth of the Nigerian Education System.
He said: ”We consider it appalling that no consultation with stakeholders especially with ASUU and the Vice Chancellors was held before such far reaching national policy like the cancellation of Post Ume was pronounced.
“In a fundamental way, the policy undermines the autonomy of universities and powers of universities’ senate as the highest policy making body on academic matters, particularly admission of students and award of university degrees.”
The ASUU boss further questioned the veracity of the claim by the Education Minister Malam Adamu Adamu that ‘’the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing” and that as a result of this, tertiary institutions do not need to conduct further tests towards admitting students UTME candidates, saying even a former Minister of education, Mrs Chinwe Obaji, in 2005 questioned the credibility of most JAMB high fliers, who even though they scored as high as 280 performed abysmally low in the post ume exercise.