The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutes in Nigeria has staged a protest to the National Assembly to demand inclusion of all research institutes and colleges of agriculture as beneficiaries of interventions from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
The protesters barricaded the entrance of the National Assembly on Monday, chanting solidarity songs, as security officials refused to allow the group into the premises of the National Assembly.
Addressing journalists, the Secretary General of the union, Mr Theophilus Ndubuakwu, said that the protest was to demand for the inclusion of colleges of agriculture and research institutions as beneficiaries of the interventions from TETFund.
He called on the House Committee on Tertiary Education to make the inclusion as it begins deliberations on the amendment of the act that established TETFund about five years ago.
The Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Education, Hon. Aminu Suleiman has assured the Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, that the Committee is working closely with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund to ensure that there are enough funds for the successful take-off of the newly established Federal Polytechnic, Ile-Oluji in Ondo State.
The assurance was made when members of the Committee paid a courtesy visit to the governor, in his office, in Akure, as part of their oversight functions.
Honourable Suleiman expressed satisfaction on the state of some Federal Government owned tertiary educational institutions, which the Committee visited in the State.
He also said that the overall interest of the members for the visit was for the educational development of Ondo State.
Responding, Governor Mimiko maintained that education was a tool for social development and breaking of generational poverty.
He stressed that his administration’s heavy investment in the education sector was to ensure that the products of the State were able to compete with their peers anywhere in the world.
Mimiko further projected that in the next five years, every child in the State would be attending standardised mega schools.
The members of the Committee after leaving Ondo State are expected to visit other States of the federation to assess the Federal Government owned educational institutions located there.
The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai has signed a performance contract with the heads of parastatals and directors in the ministry to reinforce the president’s call for accountability and efficiency in the civil service.
The minister, who signed the agreement in Abuja, said the contract mandates all agencies and directors, as well as the 17 parastatals in the ministry to achieve set out targets within three months.
The formal signing ceremony comes only two weeks after the federal government came under heavy criticisms from various stakeholders over poor the implementation of the 2012 budget.
Rufai warned that any official of the ministry who performed below expectations will be sanctioned.
Minister of State for Education, Barr. Ezenwo Wike warned officials of the ministry that they are ready to make good the promise to either sanction or reward the parastatals.
The minister assured that this adopted process would guarantee a boost in the nation’s education sector through proper monitoring. 15 of the 17 parastatals under the ministry have signed performance contracts with the minister of education.
The heads of parastatals include executive secretaries of the Universal Basic Education Commission, the National Universities Commission and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, among others.
it will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan signed a contract agreement with members of his cabinet two weeks ago.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said Nigeria’s aim to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020 will remain an illusion if the nation’s tertiary education is not overhauled.
In a statement on Monday signed by its National President, Dr. Nasir Isa, ASUU noted that,“unless something drastic and fundamental is done about the universities where those who drive the other levels of education are produced” the Vision 202020 is far-fetched .
Reacting to the recent release of funds by TETFUND to some universities, the academic body of lectures noted “the intervention of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) were beginning to make a difference on university campuses” but added that “TETFUND, as an intervention agency, was not conceived of, and should not be a replacement for government shelving its responsibility on adequate funding of its universities.”
The statement further allege that, “for five months, following the resolution of the dispute between ASUU and the Government on the need to address the rot in Nigerian universities as a matter of urgency, reliable scientific data have been obtained from the universities.”
“Accordingly, ASUU expects the Federal Government to release urgently the agreed N100billion special intervention for sole purpose of addressing some of the prioritized needs immediately the Needs Assessment Report is released.”
ASUU also called on the federal government not to renege on the release of additional N400billion subsequently for the next two years as agreed with the body.
Meanwhile, the union has alleged that state governors posed the biggest problem to state universities in Nigeria today.
ASUU claimed that most governors have turned universities into “appendages of their offices and extension of personal estates.”
It claimed the governors manipulate the system, disregard university laws and show outright discontent for what universities stand for.
Twelve tertiary institutions across the six geo-political zones of the country have been allocated N25 billion for academic upgrade under the Special High Impact Programme of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai, at the 2012 Strategic Planning Workshop organised by TETFUND on Tuesday, announced the 12 benefiting institutions which included the University of Lagos, for the fourth phase of the Special Intervention Fund.
The fund is meant for the execution of high impact projects covering learning, postgraduate training, research and publications.
According to Prof. Rufai, “six federal and state universities will each get N2 billion while three polytechnics and three colleges of education will get N1 billion each.”
These funds are in addition to N589 million given to all Nigerian universities, polytechnics and colleges of education as normal intervention fund for the year 2012 is meant to impact the academic growth of universities and other tertiary institutions.
She further revealed that besides the Special High Impact Fund, the 12 tertiary institutions are given normal interventions funds for the year.
These funds, she also disclosed, will be closely monitored to ensure they are put to good use by each university authorities.
The TETFUND is dedicated towards the improvement and maintenance of standards in higher educational institutions in the country. The minister also said “the allocations to institutions have increased with each passing year”.
The Minister of Education noted that with these intervention funds, inadequate funding can no longer be blamed for substandard education in Nigeria.