Budget Monitoring Committees in Varsities will reduce improper use of funds—ASUU

UNILAG

ASUU said the federal government should also obey extant laws.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Monday said it had signed an agreement with the Federal Government on the establishment of budget monitoring committees by universities across the country.

The President of the union, Isa Fagge, who disclosed this during a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, said that the committee would comprise key stakeholders in the system.

Mr. Fagge was speaking against the backdrop of a comment by the Minister of Education, Ruqayatu Rufai, that improper utilisation of funds, rather than under funding, was the bane of development of the education sector in the country.

According to the ASUU President, the introduction of the budget monitoring committee would reduce the issue of fund mismanagement across all the levels of education in the country. He said that the union, however, believed that the sector was still underfunded as its budget allocation was mainly going into servicing recurrent expenditure.

Mr. Fagge noted that some people believed the quantum of the 2013 budget allocation to the sector was huge, but due comparison and analysis showed that it was nothing significant. He said that it was important to understand that a greater percentage of funds allocated to the sector in recent years had always gone into servicing recurrent expenditure.

The unionist said that less than 10 per cent of the total amount went into capital expenditure, which clearly indicated that there was not much capital development in universities in particular.

“It is, therefore, not surprising that the NEEDS Assessment Report unearthed a high level of rot and decay in the universities in particular.

“So, if we are saying that there is adequate funding, perhaps we may need to compare Nigeria with other countries, particularly in the Africa, that the country is competing with in education.

“Such countries as Ghana and even South Africa have been expending more than 30 per cent of their annual budget on education, while in the last 10 to 15 years, Nigeria had been able to expend about 10 per cent.’’

Mr. Fagge said he believed the problem bedeviling the system also had to do with the appointment into the various governing councils of universities.

“ASUU has been complaining about the calibre of people appointed by government into these respective governing councils of our universities, and something must be done urgently about it,” he said.

He said that in most cases, government appointed persons who were not conversant with the system to either head or serve as members of the councils. He said such issues such as expenditure in universities are usually approved by the councils.

He noted that this explained why the union was also urging the government to abide by the provisions of the University Miscellaneous Provisions Amendment Act, of 2003, in appointing members of council.

“If this is done, the issue of fund mismanagement would reduce drastically, because those involved will not bring peculiar interests in running the affairs of the system,” he said.

(NAN)


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