The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has tackled the country’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo over his statement describing the government as too poor to fund public universities in the country.
The Minister in an interview explained that Federal Government had no money to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which had been on strike since February 2022 and would not borrow to fund the universities.
Reacting to the Minister’s comment, the chairman of CVCNU, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, explained that the demands of ASUU were not for the union but for the rehabilitation of the universities, adding that what the government meant by that statement was that it did not have money to fund its own universities.
He further described the current shutdown of academic activities in Nigeria as evil days that will be prolonged if the Vice-Chancellors do not intervene.
“This issue of saying we don’t have money to put into the university system shouldn’t be. It is like the NEEDS assessment fund; it was not given to ASUU, it was given to the universities,” he said.
“When they say we don’t have funds, what they are saying is that ‘these universities are our own but we don’t have money to give. We don’t have money to pay for overhead to run the universities.’ I listened to Keyamo also. He is not even at the centre of the whole thing.”
Edoumiekumo added that he and other VCs in the country are not happy that the universities were closed down.
He further asked the government to speed resolution and put an end to the ongoing strike
“I will not take whatever Keyamo says as the position of the government. We are not happy that our universities are closed down. I plead with both parties to amicably resolve the issues on the ground. I know the government and ASUU, especially the Ministry of Education, are working with national leaders of ASUU, but they have not finalised the reason they have not come out publicly,” he added.
He continued, “We are not happy that universities have been closed for this much time. It has been close to five months now. It affects the operations, and it disrupts the academic calendar, which has a negative effect on the operations of respective universities.
“Especially at those universities where their visitors are not funding the institutions, it is the little funding they get from students that they make use of.
“We are pleading with the government to look at the plight of students and lecturers in Nigerian universities to resolve the issue. If we decide to keep silent, we are prolonging evil days. With last year’s strike, we lost some academic sessions and it is affecting the economy.”