The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Friday stated it would not fold its hands and watch federal and state governments kill public universities.
The union has asked stakeholders and the general public to direct their grievances against the ongoing one-week strike to the Federal Government.
Speaking through its chapter in the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University (NDU), ASUU insisted that the industrial action was for the best interest of development of tertiary education in the country.
Addressing a press conference at the school’s auditorium, the NDU chapter Chairman of ASUU, Dr. Stanley Ogoun, said the union would resist any attempt by politicians, who had started the business of running private universities, to kill public institutions.
He said the docility of stakeholders was the reason why state governments and politicians destroyed primary and secondary schools.
Ogoun said: “We call on students, parents and the ordinary people of Nigeria to understand that our actions are geared towards resisting and frustrating the attempt by the ruling class to commercialise and privatise university education in Nigeria.
“We will resist every attempt to kill the university system the way they killed primary and secondary schools. If we fail to stand on the side of truth, posterity will not forgive us.
“Before now, we were receiving subventions to run the universities, but now they are withdrawing the subventions. Most state universities are almost grounded why political actors are floating private universities”, he said.
He said the Federal Government jettisoned agreements it reached with the union adding that the 2009 agreement was to be reviewed every three years.
Ogoun said: “The current state of the economy is manmade and the government of the day must live up to its responsibilities by initiating policy options that would move us out of our current economic state, except the government is bereft of ideas”.
Explaining the series of strikes embarked upon by the union in 2009 and 2013, he lamented that most aspects of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with the government had not been implemented.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, this current action is compelled by failure of negotiations and several entreaties from our union since 2004 till date and the current trend in some states where staff salaries are sacrificed on the altar of other exigencies”.
He listed the reasons behind the strike as non-release of funds for revitalization of public universities; non-release of subventions to state universities by the visitors and non-payment of staff salaries and refusal to issue license for the registration of the Nigerian University Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO).
Others according to him were refusal to pay Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); shortfall in salaries leading to payment of fractions of staff salaries; non-payment of salaries of staff in the staff primary schools and exemption of universities from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).