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FG To Privatise Public Universities


Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Bauchi Zone, comprising Universities in Bauchi, Gombe, and Plateau states, have embarked on a peaceful protest over alleged plans by the Federal Government to privatise public universities.

The protest, which is coming barely two-months after a court order compelled lecturers to return to work, was due to the alleged failure of the Federal Government to meet some of the lecturers’ demands.

Members at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi were sighted on Tuesday at the union’s secretariat singing solidarity songs as they marched to the main gate holding placards with different inscriptions.

The ATBU branch Chairman, Dr. Ibrahim Ibrahim Inuwa, while addressing reporters, called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency and national interest, resolve all outstanding issues with ASUU.

He vowed that the union would continue to defend the university system through all legitimate means, adding that it cannot be intimidated by anyone.

In his briefing titled, ‘FGN deceitful and unpatriotic plan to privatise Nigerian public universities’, the chairperson said: “It is no longer news that Nigerian public universities were shut down for eight months from February 14, 2022 to October 14, 2022”.

“The industrial action was embarked upon to call the attention of the government to address the lingering issues bedeviling the Nigerian public universities. The union called off the strike in respect of a court order, the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians, as well as the intervention of the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila and the leadership of the House of Representatives.” He added: “As a patriotic union, ASUU for years has been calling on the government both at state and Federal levels to accord the Nigerian public universities a befitting and conducive learning environment that will drive the nation’s well-being through inclusivity and global competitiveness. These were conspicuously captured in the FGN/ASUU agreement of 2009.

“The union is not surprised that the Nigerian ruling class, who are saddled with the responsibility of managing the country and are supposed to be at the forefront of championing the cause of partnering with the academia to actualise and sustain the nations’ inclusivity and global competitiveness, are the ones’ deliberately and actively working against these feats.”

According to him, a fundamental part of the FGN/ASUU 2009 agreement is that the agreement should be renegotiated after every three years to reflect the current economic realities, adding that the aim is to discourage brain drain and attract qualified foreign academics, but “unfortunately, the government is deliberately frustrating the renegotiation of the agreement”.

He stressed that “after suspending the eight-month-old strike due to court order and interventions of well-meaning Nigerians, the government went so low to withhold salaries of ASUU members and only paid the October salary pro-rata. The union rejects in total the casualisation of Nigerian academics.

“The union assures Nigerians that it will never be a party to destroying the country. The union will never support the introduction of exorbitant fees beyond the reach of the children of the Nigerian downtrodden; neither will it be a party to privatising Nigerian public universities,” he said.

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