The National Association of Nigerian Students has faulted the Federal Government over the National Universities Commission’s instability in giving resumption directives to federal universities.
The PUNCH reported, Monday, how the NUC made a U-turn after it ordered the universities to resume amid the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Reacting in a statement issued by NANS National PRO, Giwa Temitope, made available to The PUNCH on Thursday, the student body noted that it was “highly shameful that the NUC was giving a directive and counter-directive on the same issue.”
“The contradicting statement of the NUC on the commencement of lectures across universities points to the fact that the the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd.)-led administration lacks coordination. It is highly shameful that the NUC was giving a directive and counter-directive on the same issue,” NANS said.
In the statement, NANS also addressed funding of universities and alleged mismanagement of funds.
It said, “Just recently, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Olamilekan, during an interactive session with revenue generating agencies, lamented that “some universities generate N17bn annually and expend all, with no justification on how the funds were expended.”
“As an association, we find it important to set the record straight because he also called on the mass of Nigerian students to ask questions from university management on how these funds are being spent while calling on the Federal Government to stop funding education.
“Meanwhile, we have the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education tasked with the responsibility of performing oversight functions on the subject matter. We are also aware that the essence of the visitation panel which constitutes part of the FG/ASUU 2009 agreement is to monitor vice-chancellors and how they spend. This points to the fact that ASUU is very clear that VCs must be contributory and accountable.
“It is on record that in 2013, during the strike action that was embarked upon by ASUU, the Federal Government released about N200bn in two tranches, as revitalisation fund. We are also aware that out of the about N200bn, about N5bn was given to Obafemi Awolowo University for the construction of four standard hostels (two male and two female hostels) on campus, while other universities got the same or equal amount. Unfortunately, till this very moment, no one knows how this fund was spent by university managements. So, in this regard, the government has failed on the question of accountability.”
“We believe that this call is most ridiculous and has also exposed him (Senator Olamilekan) as a misfit for the office he presently occupies. Education, as much as we know is on the concurrent list which automatically gives responsibility to both the state and FG to fund. Also, Section 18 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) mandates the government to make education accessible and affordable (ultimately free) for the citizens. Unfortunately, a Senator is asking the Federal Government to stop funding education.
“We understand that this is the plan of the Nigerian government because successive administrations in the country have at one point or the other taken steps towards commercialising education thereby weaponising ignorance. At least, we read of how a Federal Government Committee recommended in 2012 that universities should start charging between N450,000 and N525,000 as tuition fees.
“The remedy to the strike action embarked upon by ASUU is for the Federal Government to be up to the task of governance. Beyond the court judgment which we are not so sure that ASUU will obey, the Federal Government should start funding education. Nigeria must not be an exemption in terms of access to quality education.
“Nigerian students will not relent on our clamour for improved academic environment for Nigerian students. We shall continue to organise, not agonise.”