The union accused the committee of insincerity and distortion of a technical subcommittee’s report
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has threatened to pull out from the Presidential Committee on the Implementation of the Committee of Needs Assessment of Nigeria (public) Universities, CNANU.
The threat was contained in a letter dated August 20 and signed by the ASUU National President, Isa Fagge.
The letter was addressed to the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Implementation of the CNANU report, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State.
In the letter, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the lecturers, who have been on strike for over eight weeks, alleged a distortion of the report of the Technical Subcommittee of the CNANU Implementation Committee; and cited a number of examples to support their claims.
“For our union, the setting up of a committee to implement the recommendation is a very welcome development. We are, however, alarmed by recent development in the work of the committee. We find it necessary to make the observations in order to stop the committee from derailing from its core mandate and creating even deeper crises in the university system,” Mr. Fagge said.
Among the issues raised by the lecturers is that of perceived mismanagement of funds; with the union saying, “Expending N50billion to construct 35,000 bed space hostels across 25 universities will be ridiculously scandalous since the same amount can be used to construct 125,000 bed space hostels across 51 universities.”
The lecturers, who have vowed not to resume work until the government implements a 2009 agreement it had with the union, said they would “be unable to continue in the membership of the Committee until the issues raised are properly addressed.”
Below is a text of ASUU’s letter to the committee chairman:
Presidential Committee on the Implementation of the CNANU Report
DISTORTION OF THE REPORT OF THE TECHNICAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF CNANU IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE
Recall that the Committee of Needs Assessment of Nigerian (Public)Universities, CNANU, was set up by Government as a result of the dispute between Government and ASUU in respect of the funding requirements needed to arrest the rot and reverse the decay in the Nigerian University System. Recall also that the Committee submitted its report to Federal Executive Council, FEC and National Economic Council, NEC and a Technical Committee was set up by NEC to draw up the action-plan to guide government in implementing the recommendations of the Report. Recall also that the Technical Committee had submitted its report to NEC, which was approved and sent to FEC. Recall also that FEC had approved the report and the President had also approved the memo sent to him in respect of the Report of the Technical Committee.
For our Union, the setting up of a committee to implement the recommendations is a very welcome development. We are however alarmed by recent developments in the work of the Committee. We therefore wish to make the following observations with regards to the workings of the Committee. We find it necessary to make the observations in order to stop the Committee from derailing from its core mandate and creating even deeper crises in the University System.
ESTABLISHMENT OF OPERATIONAL FRAMEWORK AND METHODOLOGY
1. We are worried that the Committee is yet to start working on the Technical Report of the NEC Committee that was approved by the NEC and FEC. We believe that the approved report together with the Main Report and the Individual University Report should form the basis of what the Committee will be doing.
2. We are concerned that the Committee, four weeks after its inauguration, is yet to come up with a roadmap for implementation of the CNANU Report. We are worried that there is no plan on the ground on what to do with the other numerous recommendations besides the ones that the Committee had chosen to commence with.
3. While we believe that the committee must start from somewhere, a general plan of action is necessary for the success of the committee.
SOURCE(S) OF THE FUND
4. Our Union is very apprehensive of the manner in which the sources of the initial N100billion to be used for the stimulation of the process are shrouded in secrecy. We believe that monies that already belong to the university system should not be blocked and recycled. This will not only be counterproductive but will brew even deeper crises in the system. ASUU will not accept this.
QUANTUM OF THE FUND
5. We observe that the Committee is so far mentioning only N100billion. If the implementation is to be related to the funding requirements in the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement and the Jan 2012 MoU, what is due for 2012 and 2013 is N500billion not N100billion. Only the provision of this sum will meet the immediate needs of the universities.
6. We are also concerned that a clear procedure or process for assessing the funds by the universities is yet to be defined. This concern is even more germane given the statement of the Chairman of the Committee (during the last meeting on Monday 19th Aug. 2013) that the Committee is taking some documents to the Due Process Office. We hasten to add that while due process must be followed, it is the sole responsibility of benefitting universities to respect all the provisions of the Procurement Act. The meaning of your Committee going to the Due Process Office is that it is the one that will be responsible for awarding contracts.
We want to make it clear that this will never be acceptable to our Union. We believe that monies meant to fund projects in Universities should be sent to the Universities just as it is the practice with TETFund, Capital appropriation, etc.
MUTILATION OF THE DISBURSEMENT OF THE FIRST TRANCHE
6. We are also deeply concerned about the rationale of mutilating the report of the technical subcommittee of your Committee by the Secretariat. For instance the entire structure of allocation to universities as well as to projects has been grossly distorted without any clear justification. The index of enrolment used to classify the universities has been set aside. The number of benefiting universities has also been changed without justification. ASUU will not accept this.
7. We are worried that instead of allocating N1.2billion each to construct 3,000 bed space hostels to the 10 Category1 universities, N1.0billion for 2,500 bed space hostel to the 16 Category2 universities, N500million to construct 1,250 bed space hostels in the 12 Category3 universities and N250million each to construct 625 bed space hostels in the 13 category4 universities, the Secretariat has changed that to constructing 1,400 bedspace hostels in 25 universities at the cost of N2b each. We see no rationale in this. Expending N50billion to construct 35,000 bedspace hostels across 25 universities will be ridiculously scandalous since the same amount can be used to construct 125,000 bedspace hostels across 51 universities. The standard cost of building a bed space ranges from N200,000.00 to a maximum of N400,000.00. This is even more worrisome given the tangential suggestions made by the Chairman that only monies for refurbishment will be sent to universities while the rest will be handled centrally.
EXCLUSION OF SOME UNIVERSITIES
8. We are concerned that 22 universities are excluded from the allocation for refurbishment of laboratories and libraries and 3 universities from the allocation for refurbishment of lecture theatres and lecture rooms. 24 universities are denied allocation for construction of libraries and laboratories while 2 are denied allocation for construction of new lecture theatres and lecture rooms. 26 universities are denied allocation for construction of hostel. This is in spite of the identified needs in the individual university report and the approved criterion that made them eligible to draw. More worrisome is the fact that the allocation to other universities does not seem to be in agreement with the approved enrolment criteria.
OMNIBUS PROJECT ADMINISTRATION COST
9. We have also noted, albeit quizzically, that some N1.975 billion was allocated to the ‘62nd university’ called ‘Project Admin Cost’. This makes no meaning to our Union. The Committee is not supposed to administer any project. It is supposed to distribute funds that will finance projects to universities. We see no justification for allocating an amount more than what is allocated to 4 universities put together, to a bogus ‘Project Admin Cost’. The N100b meant for universities as first tranche should go to universities in toto. No pinching, no pilfering.
In view of the forgoing, ASUU will be unable to continue in the membership of the Committee until the issues raised are properly addressed.
Yours in Struggle,
Dr.Nasir Isa Fagge
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