Dr. Ikechukwu Igwenyi, president of the Staff Union of Universities at Ebonyi State University, has encouraged the union’s national leadership to revisit the 2009 agreement it made with the Federal Government.
The don stated that the N1.1 trillion unpaid revitalization fund for the country’s institutions was no longer viable, claiming that the 2009 agreement between the union and the government and current economic realities were incompatible.
He made this claim in a statement that was made on Tuesday in Abakaliki and made available to The PUNCH.
He bemoaned that the government was only giving lip service to the objectives of the union while pointing out that it was important for leaders to consider the merits of ASUU’s position on tertiary education.
Part of the statement read, “ASUU, as a thinking union of intellectuals, is not realistic in this current struggle and there is need for the union to call for the review of the negotiated 2009 FG/ASUU agreement to ascertain possible performance rate and the expected outcomes.
“It is a fact that a people that take no interest in what seems small, will definitely take false interest in what is big. The fact is also that Nigerian leaders set wrong priorities and are not paying due attention to the demands of ASUU in this imbroglio but rather join the unpatriotic gladiators that have no interest in nation building through quality education of Nigerians because their children are not attending schools here in Nigeria.
“It is a clear testimony of irresponsibility with the recent vituperations from some highly placed individuals in government and the idea of taking ASUU to court.
“Rather than look critically into the merits in ASUU position on tertiary education, leaders tell Nigerians that university education is not for everyone; ASUU fixes salary of members; there is no money to meet ASUU’s demands; the government will take ASUU to National Industrial Court; students should take ASUU to court; etcetera. What a people!
“No nation can develop beyond the level of education of her people and by extension, beyond the capacities and capabilities of their tertiary institutions. If the youths who are the future leaders and trustees of posterity are trained in institutions with low-grade resources and manpower, where lecturers are subjected to dehumanising treatments, all manner of cruelty without consideration to human dignity, threats to job security and salaries, emotional trauma, mental torture and psychological mortification of unimaginable proportion in a developing nation, how can such a system perform maximally?”
It added, “ASUU, therefore, is not realistic, because rather than calling for a review of the renegotiated agreement in the context of the current economic realities of dollar to naira ratio, they are asking for the release of funds negotiated in 2009, when a dollar was less than ₦150 as compared to present day reality rating of dollar to naira ratio of about ₦700.
“This implies that ASUU should be asking for about ₦5trn for the revitalisation of public universities in this current and prevailing economic dispensation. The about ₦1.1trn outstanding revitalisation fund cannot achieve the same objectives as prices of items like cement, rods, wood for furniture, reagents, and chemicals, equipment and stationeries, books and subscriptions, utility vehicles, fuel for generators and other consumables are no longer in tandem with the economic equivalents of same items 13 years ago.
“There is a need to review all the agreements upwards in terms of proportional inflation, currency devaluation, and today’s equivalent of the 13 years old negotiation as part of the renegotiation rather than demanding for the release of funds that cannot meet up with its purpose now because ASUU would be blamed in future for the failure of the system to achieve the purpose of these struggles.
“It is for this same reason that ASUU is demanding for the release of the White Paper on the Visitation Panel Reports to assess the level of success or failure rate so far recorded in the funding for revitalisation of public universities.”