Sampson Itode, Port Harcourt
The Academic Staff Union of Universities has described the proposed education bank and tuition scheme by the Federal Government as a ploy to commercialise public university education and thereby encourage private universities in the country.
ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Port Harcourt Zone, Uzo Onyebinama, said that the proposed scheme by the Federal Government was an effort to commercialise university education in the country.
Onyebinama, who spoke with journalists at the University of Port Harcourt on Thursday, explained that the scheme, if approved, would deny the poor access to higher education.
He noted that the Federal Government’s introduction of the scheme into the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU and the Federal Government’s agreement process was an attempt to blackmail the union before the Nigerian students.
He said, “ASUU believes that education is a public good and therefore, the union considers the proposal for an Education Bank and a Students’ Loan Scheme as a deliberate effort to commercialise public universities
“It is also an incentive for private universities to thrive and ultimately deny poor Nigerians access to university education.
“ASUU views the attempt by the government team to introduce the issue of Education Bank and Student’s Loan Scheme into the renegotiation of the 2009 Federal Government of Nigeria and ASUU agreement as an attempt to blackmail the union before the Nigerian students and the general public.”
Onyebinama however appealed to Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to restart the renegotiation process and pay all salary shortfalls in all universities verified under the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing.
“We are therefore using this opportunity to appeal to well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to show good faith and restart the renegotiation process.
“The Federal Government can do this by reconstituting the current government team and implementing the outstanding components of the 2017 Memorandum of Agreement through the release of the forensic audit report on the payments earned academic allowances.”
The zonal coordinator urged the Federal Government to engage state governors in tackling the issues of underfunding, undue interference in administration of state universities and others.