The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday picked holes in the Federal Government’s plan to raise money from the capital market as part of measures to fund the nation’s universities.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the convocation ceremony of the University of Ibadan on Saturday, had stated that government was already considering several options to fund universities, some of which “will involve raising funds from the capital market to give a push to the infrastructure in our universities.”
Osinbajo added: “There is no question that ASUU has a point. However, we must seek to resolve amicably and with minimum disruption to the academic calendar. The issue really is that there is no doubt whatsoever that education is under-funded and we must fund it even with the best. But even with the best effort at attending to funding education from the budget, it is completely impossible to do so.
“None of the universities, especially in the free world, is fully or even substantially funded by the government. The task of fund-raising is precisely what the universities are established to do; to solve problems and to create solutions that uplift the society. We can creatively address the issue looking at other solutions around the world. One of the solutions that we must explore is alumni network. There is perhaps no university in Nigeria that has the kind of alumni network today that the University of Ibadan has.
But the Chairman, University of Ibadan branch of the union, Dr Deji Omole, funded the president’s advice for the universities to look inwards. He also faulted the capital markets idea, stressing that the government should reorder its priories such as reducing the number of aides and cutting other forms of wastage to free more money to develop the country.
Omole said the institutions have been looking inward for more than 10 years, stressing that it is the reason most of the universities are able to keep the system running in view of the massive cuts in budgetary allocations. For instance, Omole said only N60 million was approved for capital projects for the University of Ibadan for year 2017. He said monthly electricity bill alone is over N40 million, wondering what the little amount can do for the institution. He said government has not been funding overhead expenses of the institution well, pointing out that they have been looking inward to keep the institution running.
He said: “Looking inward can’t solve the problem at hand because the funding gap is too wide except the government wants the universities to introduce tuitions. But there is so much leakage in the government. Government should simply reorder its priorities and put education in the front burner. Then, all other problems will be solved.”