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ASUU issues New Ultimatum to Tinubu on University Governing Councils

15 May

Reported by Ibadan Media

On Tuesday, The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), gave
President Bola Tinubu, a two-week deadline to restore the dissolved governing
councils of Nigerian universities.

Since the dissolution by President Tinubu in June, the
universities have operated without any governing councils for nearly a year. The
dissolvement affected all public institutions, including universities,
polytechnics, and colleges of education.

In a statement signed by the union’s president, Professor
Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU described the dissolution as
unlawful and in violation
of the Universities Miscellaneous Act.
The union asserted that the \\\"unlawful dissolution\\\"
has paved the way for misconduct within the Nigerian university system. 
ASUU, therefore, asked President Tinubu to reinstate those whose
tenure had not yet concluded and to appoint new members for those whose tenure
had ended.

ASUU stated that it would convene again in two weeks to review
the situation and take decisive action to resolve the issues. 
“Nigerians should hold the federal and state governments
responsible if the matter of governing councils is allowed to snowball into an
avoidable industrial crisis,” it said.

ASUU further accused the Nigerian government of diverting
funds meant for the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to the Students Education
Loan Scheme. 
“This is antithetical to the original intent of the Law
establishing the Education Tax Fund which now operates as TETFund,” it stated.

ASUU stated that the TETFund grant should not serve as a
substitute for adequate and regular budgetary allocations by the federal and
state governments for both capital and recurrent expenses in public
“NEC enjoins the federal government not to divert TETFund
resources to funding loans so as not to water down the impact of its
intervention. In addition, both Federal and State Governments should rise to
their responsibility of adequate funding to arrest the emergent rot and decay
that are becoming more noticeable on the campuses of Nigeria’s public
universities despite the intervention efforts of TETFund,” the union said.

The Union stated that the government has not shown substantial
efforts to resolve the persistent issues that led the union to initiate an eight-month
nationwide strike in 2022. 
The union also cited longstanding grievances that have
strained its relationship with the Nigerian government over the past decade.
They include the failure to renegotiate its 2009 agreement with the government,
the proliferation of universities, underfunding universities, and the ongoing
use of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) for
salary payments.

Additionally, ASUU has voiced its rejection of the Core
Curriculum Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS) devised by the National
Universities Commission (NUC).

The union observed that Mr. Tinubu\\\'s dissolution of the
governing council represents a further erosion of university autonomy.  “University administrations now place
advertisements for the appointment of Vice-Chancellor without authorization
from the appropriate quarters – the Governing Councils,” it said.

It further alleged that outgoing vice-chancellors, working in
cahoots with the Ministry of Education, are illegally managing the universities
daily. ASUU said, 
“They routinely usurp the powers of Governing Councils to
recruit and discipline staff as well as manage university finances in manners
bereft of transparency and accountability. 
“It is therefore stating the obvious to say that these and
sundry activities that run contrary to the extant laws are compounding cases of
corruption in our universities. 
“ASUU condemns these anomalies in strong terms and calls on
the federal government and the equally affected State Governments to respect
the Laws establishing their universities. Universities are supposed to be the
bastion of democratic ethos and practices. We cannot entrench a sustainable
democratic culture in Nigeria if universities are run by the whims and caprices
of individuals no matter how knowledgeable. We, therefore, restate our demand
for reinstating Governing Councils whose tenures are yet to lapse and
reconstitute those whose tenures had lapsed so that our universities can run per
their Laws.”

ASUU urged the administration led by Mr. Tinubu to promptly
initiate the process for reviewing and signing the renegotiated draft agreement
led by Nimi Briggs, as a gesture of goodwill and a promise of hope for
Nigeria\\\'s public universities.

 The union accused
former Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, of derailing the
renegotiation process, which lasted for over four years. 
 ASUU stated, “The
reviewed agreement with the Briggs-led government team has remained in its
draft form from 2021 till date.

“The last FGN/ASUU Agreement was in 2009. Consequent to the
union’s advocacy spanning almost one decade, our union went into renegotiation with the FGN in 2017. 
“We started with the Wale Babalakin-led Joint Renegotiation
Committee. Emeritus Prof Munzali Jibril took over when the negotiation broke down
owing to Dr. Babalakin’s high-handedness and fixation on imposing his unworkable
anti-worker orientations as terms of the agreement. Also, at some point, the
Federal Government dropped Prof. Munzali Jibril and directed Emeritus Prof.
Nimi Biggs to take over the negotiation. A draft Agreement was reached with the
Professor Briggs-led Committee in 2021. Unfortunately, agents of the Buhari
government refused to approve the draft Agreement for reasons best known to

Furthermore, ASUU pointed out that the federal government has
not yet paid the backlog of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) outlined in the
2023 national budget for federal universities. They expressed disappointment
over the failure to mainstream EAA into lecturers salaries and unpaid salaries
and allowances due to members, both at federal and state universities. ASUU
condemned the authorities\\\' apparent lack of concern for these issues and warned
of potential action if they remain unresolved.

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