COMMUNIQUE OF THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) OF THE ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU) HELD ON 12TH 13TH DECEMBER 2004 AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS, AKOKA CAMPUS.
ASUU NEC met December 12th 13th 2004. The meeting, attended by thirty-five branches, discussed various issues vital to the universities and the nation.
FUNDING OF UNIVERSITIES
NEC draws the attention of the public to the fact that despite official claims to the contrary, the Nigerian University System is still poorly funded because the Agreement signed between Federal Government and ASUU is not being implemented faithfully.
Restoration and Stabilisation funds have not been provided at all since 2001. In 2003 and 2004 a total of about 20bn capital fund was allocated. But the Agreement from 2001 to 2004 required 66bn. It should be noted that no university in Nigeria received any Capital Fund between 1998 and 2003.
It should be noted that: Capital Expenditure is to be utilized to build new hostels, new academic buildings, classrooms, laboratories, workshops, to procure new teaching and research equipment; provide new recreational facilities, build access roads, provide more staff housing and utilities, and to maintain existing facilities.
Restoration Fund is to be utilized for rehabilitation of Students hostels, classrooms, laboratories, studios, engineering workshops, water and electricity supply, roads, teaching facilities, the environment aesthetics, sanitation and safety, vehicle pools, staff quarters, academic buildings, sports facilities, student centres, etc.
Stabilization Fund is meant to protect Universities from fluctuations in annual budgetary allocations.
The 1.3bn misused Stabilisation Fund including the 600million Naira used to purchase a house in Abuja for the Federal Ministry of Education by NUC has not been returned.
The provision of the Agreement to assist State Universities through projects has been ignored, although the Implementation Committee has already identified projects in which assistance was needed and could be given.
NEC also noted that despite the Agreement, no State Government is providing Capital, Restoration and Stabilisation Funds as required, thus jeopardising the accreditation of academic programmes in State Universities.
As for the Recurrent Funds the picture is also appalling. Assuming that there was no growth in the level of funding required since 2003, 138bn Naira would have been required for 2004 alone. But a total of 80bn Naira has been allocated for both 2004 and 2005.
UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN
NEC noted that the 49 lecturers sacked in UNILORIN in violation of the no victimisation clause have not been reinstated. NEC commended the 49 lecturers for their steadfastness and courage, and resolved to pursue their reinstatement until achieved.
NEC resolved to inform the public that one Dr. Kola Joseph and one Mr. S. Y. Omoiya, who have been presenting themselves as Chairman and Secretary respectively of ASUU UNILORIN, are not members of ASUU. ASUU NEC expelled them in June 2002.
DISCRIMINATORY SEIZURE OF SALARIES
NEC also noted the injustice of discriminatory seizure of the salaries of university workers in 2003. It is becoming clear that this unjust discrimination is a threat to peace on the campuses. NEC resolved to embark on an immediate struggle to correct this injustice.
RENEGOTIATION OF THE ASUU/FGN JUNE 2001 AGREEMENT
NEC was angry and disappointed that despite ASUU patience since June 2004 when the Agreement became due for renegotiation, even though ASUU has written several letters to the Minister of Education and called the public attention to this matter, the Federal Government has failed to invite ASUU for renegotiation. Instead of honouring the Agreement on renegotiation, the government has been trying to sidetrack renegotiation by attempting to promulgate laws negating ASUU right to collective bargaining.
ASUU appreciates the interventions by the Senate and House Committees on Education. Nevertheless, such interventions should not override the right of our Union to collective bargaining and our right to fight against injustice to our members sustained through State power. Such interventions should not be an excuse to permit government to renege on its obligation to honour agreements.
Having reviewed the failure of the Federal Government to invite ASUU for a re-negotiation of, and being dissatisfied with the poor implementation of the June 2001 Agreement on Funding, including assistance to State Universities; Conditions of Service and University Autonomy, in spite of ASUU patience;
Being greatly dissatisfied with and aggrieved by the continued injustice done to 49 lecturers at the University of Ilorin.
Being aggrieved by the discriminatory Seizure of Salaries of ASUU members in 2003,
NEC resolved to step up its defence of collective bargaining and industrial justice. The situation will be reviewed at its next meeting.
UNIVERSITY OF UYO
NEC resolved to continue to struggle for the reinstatement of the Chairman of University of Uyo ASUU Branch, who was sacked in a process manipulated by the Vice Chancellor. NEC resolved to publish an account of the issue soon.
VISITATION PANELS, REPORTS AND WHITE PAPERS
NEC calls on the Federal Government to release to the public the reports of the recently concluded Visitation Panels to Federal Universities, and the Government White Papers on them. The magnitude of the problems in the Universities will be better appreciated by the public, which funds them if the Reports and the White Papers are published.
NEC also calls on Visitors to State Universities that have not undergone Visitation as due, to immediately constitute Visitation Panels for their Universities. Among these are Ambrose Ali University, Lagos State University and Imo State University.
The absence of Governing Councils in all Federal Universities has turned Vice Chancellors into Sole Administrators. This situation is undemocratic and generates crises. While calling upon the Federal Government to immediately announce new Governing Councils, NEC insists that Vice Chancellors who have been responsible for major crises in some Universities, and Pro-Chancellors whose Councils have been responsible for mismanaging/losing the money that belongs to the Universities will not be welcome.
NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION (NUC).
NEC considered the current role of the NUC in the running of Nigerian universities. NEC was disturbed by the current development in which the NUC is usurping the functions of the Senates and Governing Councils of universities by getting involved in the disbursement of Research Grants; allocation of funds directly to Departments in the universities; recruitment of retired Professors; Sabbatical placements for university staff; sponsoring and publishing inaugural lectures; drawing up curricula/syllabi/the criteria for admission for university programmes (e.g. in Medicine and Law); using money allocated to universities to acquire a house while lying that the money was loaned to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN); attempting to foist NUC staff on UNIABUJA as part-time lecturers; rewriting educational philosophies for Universities e.g. asking that all Universities must teach entrepreneurial studies like soap making, pure water production and petty trading etc.
NEC noted that all these activities are not part of the functions of the NUC as stipulated by the law establishing it.
NEC was also deeply disturbed by the emerging tendency of ex-Vice-chancellors taking up appointments in the NUC, the resultant effect of which is that such Vice-Chancellors carry all their biases against the University System into the NUC.
NEC, therefore, reaffirmed its call for a special Visitation Panel to the NUC. The NUC Law should thereafter be amended in line with the findings and recommendations of the Special Visitation Panel, the recommendations made by the 1999 and 2004 Visitation Panels Reports to Federal Universities, and the views of State Universities Visitation Panels on NUC.
AUTONOMY ACT 2003
NEC notes that:
Although President Olusegun Obasanjo signed an Autonomy Act in 2003, all appointments made by the Visitor to the position of Vice Chancellor since 2003 have been made in violation of the Autonomy Act, which states that Councils shall appoint the Vice Chancellor.
The on-going reconstitution of Councils similarly ignores the signed Autonomy Act.
NEC observes that the Federal Government is, together with NUC, attempting to amend the Act through the National Assembly, and to re-inject into it certain anti-democratic provisions allowing government to relinquish its responsibility to the people while giving Vice Chancellors autocratic powers.
NEC resolved to continue to resist through all legitimate means this crisis generating move by the Federal Government.
THE "DUE PROCESS" ON THE AWARD OF CONTRACTS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
While ASUU favours proper "Due Process", the NEC observed that the Federal Government "Due Process" is, as presently operated, a violation of the procedures for contracts as enshrined in the Statutes of the Universities.
NEC affirms that the transparency of what is called Ã¢â‚¬Å“Due Process" has been called into question and reports of corruption within it should not be ignored. The amount of funds spent by Vice Chancellors in their visits to the Due Process Office, NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja in search of "Due Process" is a drain on the lean resources in the Universities.
NEC therefore calls for a return to due process internal to the Universities through the Governing Councils and the Statutes of the Universities themselves.
EDUCATION TAX FUND (ETF)
NEC notes with dismay the continuous efforts by the Ministry of Finance to abolish the Education Tax Fund.
An Education Tax Fund operated according to the Law establishing it, with a Board reconstituted to incorporate the recommendations of the House of Representatives Enquiry into the ETF in the year 2000, will play an even more significant role in the funding of Education in Nigeria.
NEC therefore calls on parents, students, teachers, lawmakers and civil society organisations etc to rise up to defend the existence of the Education Tax fund as a gain of the people in the sphere of public education.
PROPOSED HANDOVER OF STUDENTS HOSTELS IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES TO PRIVATE ESTATE MANAGERS
NEC considered the new policy, which requires that hostel facilities be transferred to private individuals and organizations for management; purely as profit-yielding ventures. NEC objects to this policy on the following grounds:
First, it is unjust that public property is being passed to individuals for profit making even when such individuals have not been involved in their development.
Second, except for the Ã¢â‚¬Å“stakeholders meeting Conference of Alumni Association of Nigerian Universities (CAANU) and the Education Consortium Foundation (ECF), at no other forum was this new policy subject of debate or discussion. In effect, all that government has done is to force its position on this highly important and sensitive subject on the Nigerian people.
Third, this new policy has an immense potential of limiting access to university education. It will also affect the quality and content of university education.
NEC therefore, calls on all Branches of ASUU to openly campaign against this policy and not be use to jeopardise the access of people to adequately funded university education.
THE STATE OF THE NATION
The economic-political crises in Nigeria have reached a critical point. The Federal Government regular increase in the prices of petroleum products, in the interest of marketers and their allies in Government, has increased the level of abject poverty, engendered the collapse of infrastructure, health and education. The resulting punishment on the people is irreversible without a people-oriented strategy of development, which NEEDS is not. Corruption is a problem but the economic foundation of the Nigerian State, including and the consequences of the policies sustaining it, including NEEDS generate essential corruption.
Similarly, the political structure that generates and sustains the Anambra and Plateau crises, the continuous alienation felt by the Niger Delta people and many more, a corrupt client- state using deceit and fraud as a tool of governance, and a disenfranchised people in desperate need for a good life, needs a thorough overhaul.
The "National Dialogue" being floated by the present Government will not solve any problem. Its conception is too narrow, undemocratic and lacks a credible authoritative source in which the people have confidence.
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