Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, says it’s no longer realistic to operate a government-sponsored tertiary education.
Speaking on Tuesday while addressing his colleagues upon resumption of plenary after a seven-week recess, Gbajabiamila said funding of tertiary education by government can’t be sustained because it’s no longer working.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on strike in February, halting academic activities in public universities.
The federal government has met with the leadership of ASUU multiple times to resolve the union’s demands, but there’s yet to be headway.
Speaking on Monday, Gbajabiamila said “evidence abounds” that the government-sponsored tertiary education system is “no longer working”.
He noted that it’s become imperative for the lawmakers to wade into federal government and ASUU imbroglio.
“It has become necessary for the house to intervene in the extended faceoff between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government. This current impasse is due primarily to disagreements over conditions of service of the staff and funding of universities in general.
“It is long established that access to education, more than anything else, is key to unlocking prosperity and improving social mobility outcomes in any society. And we all agree that the government has a role in ensuring that our nation’s young people get a quality education that allows them to compete and thrive in the 21st-century knowledge economy.
“Yet, evidence abounds that the current framework of government-sponsored tertiary education is no longer working as it should and hasn’t worked for a long time.
“Our immediate goal is to do everything to get our children back to school. However, the time has also come to begin a candid assessment of the current system and to consider all available options for complete reform. We owe this to our children and our nation’s future.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of the house of representatives, the leadership of ASUU, and representatives of the ministry of labour and finance are expected to meet on the matter this afternoon.
17-yr-old breadwinner ditches marriage for school in Bauchi
One Maryam Alhassan from Barkoti, Ningi Local Government Area of Bauchi State, has chosen to get educated instead of kick starting her journey to motherhood in her teenage years.
The 17-year-old teenager, is relishing the prospect of attending school for the first time after her encounter with the School-based Management Committee, SBMC, of Sabuwa-Tiffi Primary School, Ningi.
Until two months ago, Alhassan, the breadwinner of her family would hawk kunu (milled millet drink) in the morning and boiled groundnut in the afternoon in various schools around Ningi, to sustain her family, even though she has been nursing the desire to go to school like other children.
According to her, she’s the only child among the seven birthed by her parents who has not seen the four walls of formal education centre.
“I really wish to go to school like other children. Every time I see other children in their classes, I wish I were them. I am 17 years old and I live with my parents. I would love to help my parents with their finances but I also want to attend classes like others.
“My father wants to marry me off to somebody from the next village. I have nothing against marriage, but I don’t want to be a powerless wife, who waits for her husband for food. That’s why I am begging for a chance to get education, so that I can be useful to myself and the society.
“My parents have seven children but I am the only one who has never been to school. I wish I could ask my father why he didn’t send me to school but I can’t (because of tradition). I hawk different things to help my family. I sell kunu in the morning and then boiled groundnut in the afternoon. I make around N1,500 from selling only kunu,” she had said, while waiting for pupils to patronise her groundnut under a mango tree.
Meanwhile, the school committee for Girls Education Project 3 (GEP3) funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO, of the UK and implemented by UNICEF, intervened through the Chairman of SBMC, Sabuwa-Tiffi Primary School Ningi, Dahiru Ali, who reached out to Maryam’s father to allow her to attend a school like other children in the community
She told Vanguard that her father was receptive to the idea of allowing his daughter to attend school.
His words: “We met Maryam’s father a few weeks ago to know why his daughter has never been to school. After our conversation, he agreed that Maryam can now go to school. However, we will observe her closely to know the appropriate class for her because she has a unique case.”
You are ignorant – NANS fires Senator Adeola for asking FG to stop funding university education
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has described the statement of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola as ridiculous and irresponsible. The student association noted that his statement was a sign he lacks understanding of how the government should operate.
Naija News 247 obtained a video where Solomon Adeola, during day 5 of an interactive session recently held between the committee of finance and revenue generated agencies, urged the government to rethink funding government-owned tertiary Institutions, their salaries as well as recurrent expenditure. He also told students to request from their various universities how revenue generated is being spent.
“ How do we explain to the whole world for a university that generates an average of 15/16 billion a year and being spent, and aside that the FG would still go ahead to pay their salaries, pay their recurrent and also pay the capital of that institution and the end of the day the lecturers would go on strike
“ It is high time for FG to stop the funding of universities to the extent of salaries or recurrent expenditures. I think the Nigerian students to start asking questions, how do you spend the money generated by this institution,” he said
However, in a statement signed by the NANS Southwest Coordinator, Adegboye Olatunji, the student association opined that the lawmaker is ignorant.
“We were expecting Senator Solomon to know better. But, Alas, we were proven wrong by his sheer display of ignorance. We could have categorized it as wilful ignorance but it is obvious that the Senator does not understand what the business of governance is.
“We may conclude that Senator Solomon and other members of the Committee like many other government officials out there are lacking the knowledge of what Section 18 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) says on the enforcement of public education right in Nigeria.
“It is also disturbing that these same people forget that they appoint members of Governing Councils for these institutions. And, if the import of what Senator Solomon is saying is that they are not aware of how the generated revenue is being spent, the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education has been nailed of inefficiency.
“As much as we know, fees are now being paid to the purse of the Federal Government through Remita. Meanwhile, the essence of the Treasury Single Account is to enhance government revenue generation and to ensure transparency and accountability in government expenditure. Unfortunately, revenue leakages are still rampant in several ministries thereby defeating the purpose of the TSA.” he said
Olatunji posited that successive governments in the country have failed to invest in the educational sector and it is a shameful act to blame ASUU for the lack of proper management of national resources.
“ What we can make out of the embarrassing statement of the Senator is that the Senate Committee on Finance is indirectly saying that Public Universities should be privatized. The question we ask them is how well are the privatized national corporations like water, power, etc functioning if not that this same government still gives them bailout funds after selling them?” he said
The student association called on the Federal Government to invest massively in public education, making it free and functional.
“We maintain that education remains a right and the Nigerian State must be mandated to fund the same. Even in advanced countries where their institutions are self-dependent with huge endowment funds, the government still does follow-up by budgeting heavily for the institutions.” Olatunji said
FG makes U-turn, withdraws directive to VCs to reopen varsities
The federal government has withdrawn its earlier directive to vice-chancellors, chairmen of governing councils and pro-chancellors of public universities to reopen the schools for academic activities.
The withdrawal was contained in a circular by the National Universities Commission, NUC, Monday evening.
The circular with reference number:”NUC/ES/138/Vil.64/136 was titled: “Re: Forwarding of Court Judgement and Enforcement of Order by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Suit No.NICN/ABJ/270/2022.: Withdrawal of Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135.”
The circular signed by NUC Director, Finance and Accounts, Mr Sam Onazi, on behalf of the commission’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, and addressed to vice-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, read: “I have been directed to withdraw the National Universities Commission (NUC) circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol64/135, a d dated 23rd September 2022 on the above subject. Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn.
“All pro-chancellors and chairmen of Governing Councils, as well as vice-chancellors of the federal universities are to please, note. Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.
“Please accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards.”
The withdrawal of the directive, according to a source, was not uncontested by the appeal against the judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
It was gathered that the NUC was reminded of the implementation of its action considering that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, through its team of lawyers had filed an appeal against the court judgement.
The source said the commission was also reminded that the defendant had successfully secured a stay of execution of the judgement of the court which had ordered it to resume work.
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