The government’s assertion that it lacks the funds to support Nigerian institutions, according to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, is demoralizing.
Festus Keyamo, the minister of state for labor and employment, stated in an interview that the government lacked the resources necessary to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and would not resort to borrowing.
In an interview on Tuesday, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, the chairman of CVCNU, clarified that the demands of ASUU were not for the union but rather for the rehabilitation of the universities, adding that the government’s intention was to imply that it lacked the funds to support its own universities.
He said, “This issue of saying we don’t have money to put into the university system shouldn’t be. It is like the Needs Assessment fund; it was not given to ASUU, it was given to the universities.
“When they say we don’t have funds, what they are saying is that ‘these universities are our own, but we don’t have money to give. We don’t have money to pay for overhead to run the universities.’ I listened to Keyamo also. He is not even at the centre of the whole thing.”
Edoumiekumo continued by saying that the closure of the universities had angered him and other VCs in the nation.
Therefore, he urged a quick end to the deadlock.
“I will not take whatever Keyamo says as the position of the government. We are not happy that our universities are closed down. I plead with both parties to amicably resolve the issues on the ground. I know the government and ASUU, especially the Ministry of Education, are working with national leaders of ASUU, but they have not finalised the reason they have not come out publicly,” he added.
He continued, “We are not happy that universities have been closed for this much time. It has been close to five months now. It affects the operations, and it disrupts the academic calendar, which has a negative effect on the operations of respective universities.
“Especially at those universities where their visitors are not funding the institutions, it is the little funding they get from students that they make use of.
“We are pleading with the government to look at the plight of students and lecturers in Nigerian universities to resolve the issue. If we decide to keep silent, we are prolonging the evil days. With last year’s strike, we lost some academic sessions, and it is affecting the economy.”