NDU Lecturers Advocate For Better Management Of National Assets

universityUniversity lecturers, captains of industry, government functionaries and other stakeholders have described the state of the nation’s critical infrastructures as appalling, unsatisfactory and not properly controlled.

They expressed their views during a one-day workshop entitled, ‘Sustainable Development of Critical Infrastructure for Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities’.

The brainstorming workshop, which took place at the conference hall of the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University, Amassoma, was organised by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with the NDU.

The participants noted that the state of infrastructures in Nigeria have remained a matter of concern given its importance in the economic well-being of the citizens, the growth and development process of the economy.

Speaking on the event, the Director of Public Procurement Research Centre, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Prof. Gloria Chukwudebe, says “Infrastructures in Nigeria are insufficient and the available ones are not properly maintained”.

“The control mechanisms adopted by the relevant authorities to ensure sustainable development of critical infrastructures are not effective enough to achieve the nation’s development goals”.

As part of the ways to remedy the trend, she recommended that the education sector, which she described as the ”mind and the brain box” of the society, should be accorded its pride of place to be able to have the manpower to drive developmental plans of government.

She also advocated the teaching of project management in schools, and the need to stop the syndrome of ”conflict of interest” in the award of contracts and handling of critical infrastructures.

A lecturer in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department, NDU, Ebipuado Sapre-Obi, said the Nigerian government found itself in the present state of anomie due to lack of institutional discipline, noting that projects were usually awarded without due diligence.

“There’s need for a comprehensive national policy on critical infrastructure, the National Assembly and stakeholders should take this issue of infrastructural development seriously”.

He urged the government to actively seek partnership with the private sector for sustainable development of the country’s infrastructure.

Speaking on how to sustain critical infrastructure, Associate Professor and Head, Engineering Department, NDU, Dr. Meeting Andawei, recommended that the ownership structure of critical infrastructure should be reviewed in such a way that it should be more private sector driven.

“A situation whereby about 90 per cent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is controlled by the public can not guarantee sustainable development”.

He urged the government to take a cue from the privatisation of the telecoms sector, which he said had generated over two million jobs since its emergence.

Put Funds Into Good Use, Okupe Tells ASUU

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe has commended the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, for ending their 5 month old strike.

Okupe, in an interview with Channels Television in Abuja, saluted the patriotism of the university lecturers and their commitment to the development of education in the country.

“It’s very heartwarming news to hear that the long strike has been finally put aside. This is a great relief to government and to the students, parents and stakeholders generally.

“I want to assure that the agreement that has been signed or the agreement that has been reached will be fully discharged by this administration. I have said it before that this administration does not have any credibility issue whatsoever, and the President and his government will honour their word.”

He urged the lecturers to ensure that the fund provided by the government is used for the provision of infrastructure in the nation’s ivory towers. He said: “the monies provided have been painstakingly sought for and they should be applied to good use for the educational advancement of our institutions.”

Dr. Okupe had been a major feature in the saga between the union of Nigerian university lecturers and the Federal Government while the industrial action lasted.

He appeared on Channels Television a number of times to communicate the government’s stance at different points in the protracted negotiation.

ASUU Suspends Strike After 5 Months

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its over five months old strike.

ASUU Chairman, University of Lagos Chapter, Dr. Karo Ogbinaka told Channels Television that the union decided to suspend the strike after a marathon meeting held in Minna, Niger State capital on Monday.

In attendance at the meeting, which ran till late in the evening, were all the ASUU branch chairmen and secretaries, the national executive members of the body, coordinators and past leaders, including 56 members from 52 universities.

Dr. Ogbinaka said that, in line with procedures, the different chapters of ASUU would hold congress meetings on Wednesday to inform members and managements of the institutions of the latest development.

“We expect the students to resume and expect their members to go back to class immediately after the congress meeting and we expect the government to keep to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),” Dr. Ogninaka stated.

He said that the union and the government would hold meetings in 2014 to look at gray areas that may arise and come to a common ground.

The Federal Government and ASUU had reached a compromise during a negotiation brokered by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar on Wednesday, December 11, which led to the signing of the MoU.

Speaking to journalists after the agreement with the government on Wednesday, the National President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, said that the union would consult with its National Executive Council and would intimate Nigerians of its decision on the strike within one week, expressing optimism that the outcome of the consultation would be positive.

It was gathered that the MoU addressed all the resolutions that the leadership of the ASUU and the Federal Government agreed to in their 13-hour meeting with President Jonathan on November 4, as well as their widely criticised fresh demands.

ASUU’s demands

ASUU’s demands include the upward review of the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70; adequate funding to revitalise the university system; progressive increase of budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26%; transfer of Federal Government property to universities; setting up of research and development units by the companies; and renegotiation of the signed agreement.

The fresh demands include a non-victimisation clause, provision and deposit of N200 billion infrastructure revitalisation funds in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) details of disbursement of the funds and payment of salary arrears which has accrued to the teachers during the strike.

The Wednesday agreement between the two which is reportedly due for renegotiation in 2014 was reached barely 24 hours after the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe presented a proof of payment of N200 billion into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s university lecturers have been on strike since July 1, 2013 to demand full implementation of the 2009 agreement it reached with the Federal Government on conditions of service for university lecturers, and funding of infrastructural development in Nigerian universities.

 

Earlier video of a telephone conversation with the Chairman of ASUU Chapter of the University of Lagos.

Ezekwesili Challenges FG To Rebuild University System

Former Education Minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesile, today in Abuja threw a challenge to the Federal Government to choose between rebuilding the university system and maintaining standards or allowing the current rot to continue.

She also says that the missing link in this long drawn face-off is the lack of acceptance of the importance of dialogue in this kind of dispute as there is absolutely no point of disagreement as to the necessity to rebuild the structure of the university system.

According to her:

“The university system is not just about the physical structure, it’s about the quality of the faculty and that is where the conversation as to what kind of university system we want to run (comes in)”

She stated that Government and ASUU, so far seem to have failed to find a ground for principled negotiation. Therefore it is no longer a matter between the two parties; it has become a matter between the people of Nigeria and the government and ASUU.

“I think the citizens must now demand that there must be a neutral approach at identifying what will be the solution to the kind of university system that we want to run”

She concluded “there’s no time because the rest of the world has used knowledge as a basis to completely leave us behind the lower rungs of economic development”.

Okonjo Iweala Says FG Can’t Meet Financial Demands Of ASUU

There appears to be no end in sight for the on-going strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities as the Federal Government has declared that it does not have the resources to meet the financial demands of the University lecturers.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Okonjo Iweala indicated this in her speech at the opening of a two-day meeting of Commissioners of Finance and Accountants Generals of states ministries of Finance in Minna.

She noted that the N92 billion being demanded by the University lecturers is not within the reach of the Federal Government.

‘At present, ASUU wants the federal government to pay N92bn in extra allowances, when resources are not there and when we are working to integrate past increases in pensions. We need to make choices in this country as we are getting to the stage where recurrent expenditures take the bulk of our resources and people get paid but can do no work’.

She stated that if the demands of the university lecturers are met and ‘we continue to pay them salaries and allowances we will not be able to provide infrastructure in the universities.’

The resumed talks between the federal government and the representatives of the striking lectures (ASUU) which was held yesterday in Abuja ended in a deadlock, recounting the last meeting before yesterday also ended in a deadlock.

However, both parties will be meeting on Monday the 19th of August, we hope that the parties will be able to reach agreeable conclusion with the recent revelation by the Minister of Finance.