Bi-Courtney Nigeria Limited, Wale Babalakin

The Federal Government negotiating team with the Academic Staff Union of Universities has said one of the reasons for the ongoing strike in the universities is the refusal of the lecturers to agree to being held accountable for funds released for the development of the education sector.

The Chairman of the negotiating team and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin, said ASUU was unwilling to sign up to Key Performance Indicators for funds released to universities.

Rather, Babalakin said the leadership of the union was only interested in the government releasing funds to the universities without deliverables attached.

The universities lecturers, who are at present on strike, are demanding for the release of at least N2 trillion to revamp the education sector.

Babalakin said the negotiating team is not against the funding of the education sector.

He said: “There should be no compromise about funding education.

“The lecturers believe N2 trillion must be spent, but where does it take come from?

“And for every amount of money invested in education, there must be a way of measuring the effect.

“In 1974/75, the University College Hospital in Ibadan was the fifth rated in the Commonwealth.

“So if we decide to put money into UCH, we must sit down with the leadership for Key Performance Indicators.

“But ASUU says no.

“That it is the neoliberal tendencies of Babalakin.

“The kind of funding we are talking about is not a bonanza.

“But what ASUU wants is a bonanza.”

Babalakin denied the allegation by the lecturers that the negotiating team had recommended a tuition of between N350,000 and N500,000 for university students.

He said the terms of reference of the negotiating team does not include pronouncement on fees.

He said: “The Committee has not recommended school fees.

“We don’t have a mandate to impose school fees.

“As of date, we have not mentioned the issue of school fees.

“It is just a figment of the imagination of those who said it.

“Everything we agreed on was jointly signed.

“The reform of the education sector must start now.

“Nigeria must have a sound education system.

“Nigeria must have a well funded education system.”

On the issue of indigent students, Babalakin said the committee recommended the establishment of a students loan scheme and Education Bank.

He said students could obtain loans from any of the two and pay back after graduation with low interest rate.

He said: “No Nigerian should be deprived of sound education because of his circumstances.

“All students must stay on campus and this must be affordable.

“The travails of students must stop.”

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