The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has kicked against the plan by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to include private universities as beneficiaries of its projects.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, made this known at a two-day interactive session between TETFund and all unions of beneficiary institutions in Abuja on Wednesday.
Osodeke, ASUU president said that the move to include private universities in the fund’s project would lead to the proliferation of private universities devoid of quality.
The ASUU president charges the fund to work more on its project monitoring method, saying that the levels of performance by the beneficiary institutions are not in tandem as some of them receive the same amount of money.
He called for sanctions against non-performing institutions while also advocating for the abolition of what he referred to as the “stakeholders fund”.
“ASUU will continue to embark on a strike until the right thing is done in our tertiary institutions. Stakeholders Fund should be abolished,” Osodeke said.
In his address, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, said the interactive session was conceived as a proactive engagement against the backdrop of the prevailing challenges in the subsector.
Echono said that the engagement was also for the purpose of sustaining steady growth and development in tertiary education.
He stressed the need to consistently engage and challenge one another on how best to improve the situation.
“It is our fervent hope that this interactive session will provide an enabling environment for us to understand some of our challenges and difficulties in the delivery of quality education in our institutions.
“Thereby making a meaningful contribution to the successful execution of the objective of the fund.
“As you all know, our primary mandate is to rehabilitate, restore, and consolidate tertiary education in Nigeria, using funding alongside project management.
“The session is also expected to serve as a platform to discuss and mitigate incidences of industrial disputes in the tertiary education sector and look at ways to prevent and avoid their occurrences,” he said.
Echono also explained that the interactive session would provide the opportunity to build and solidify cooperation among the fund, its beneficiary institutions, and the unions on matters that affect the growth and development of tertiary education.
“I believe that this interaction will bring up issues of concern that will not only enable us to address the areas of intervention in our institutions.
“It will also espouse gaps and shortcomings that have resulted in strikes and interruptions of academic sessions, with a view to mitigating them,” he said.
He called for an urgent need for all stakeholders to unify efforts to reposition our tertiary institutions for the challenges of the times, especially in dealing with strike actions in the institutions.
“Studies have shown a link between poor student performance and industrial strikes by unions. The arguments generally are that the quality of teaching and learning will significantly improve when teaching and learning are uninterrupted.
“Furthermore, building world-class institutions requires a consistent and regular academic calendar, and this is often affected by industrial strikes.
“However, a closer look will also show that many industrial strikes by the unions were for the improvement of teaching and learning conditions for both staff and students.
“It is for these reasons that sessions like this are organized to deliberate and find common ground on issues of mutual interest and benefit,” he added.
Also, the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, who spoke on ‘The Role of Trade Unions in TETFund Intervention Activities”, commended the fund for its commitment to the elevation of university education.
Wabba noted that the NLC had benefited a great deal from the ideological clarity and consistency of the unions in the tertiary institutions.
“The patriotic and historical resistance of the Congress against the debilitating influence and impact of the neo-liberal policies of successive governments in Nigeria drew a lot of inspiration.
“This is also drawing verve from the intellectually sound positions advanced by unions in our tertiary institutions,” he said.