AEFUNAI ASUU urges FG to prioritise varsity education to curb brain drain

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has urged the Federal Government to prioritise university education to boost research and academic excellence in the nation’s ivory towers.

The Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (AEFUNAI), branch of ASUU made the appeal in an address delivered during a press conference on the campus on Wednesday at Ikwo local government area in Ebonyi.

The union had earlier embarked on a peaceful march that commenced on the university campus and terminated at the entrance gate of the institution to draw awareness of its demand for a better welfare and funding of university education in Nigeria.

The address signed by Dr Louis Omenyi and Dr Joseph Chukwu, the branch chairman and secretary respectively, lamented the poor state of infrastructure, welfare of lecturers and other anomalies in the system.

According to the unionists, the perceived rot in the public owned universities need urgent action so as to stem brain drain and incessant strike actions that had bedevilled the university education.

The union rejected what it termed, illegalities, underfunding, disrespect and flagrant violation of university autonomy and academic freedom by governments at all levels.

It also decried the federal government’s failure to honour the agreement it reached with the national body.

“All these anomalies have occasioned the massive exodus of some of our best brains through the phenomenon that has become popularly known as ‘Japa’ syndrome.

“The few of us left behind will not let our generation down because the struggles of our irrepressible union are our historic responsibility to secure the heart and soul of the university system where intellectualism, research, innovation and development are nurtured and delivered.

“The baton is in our hands today and we cannot let down our heroes past by allowing people who benefited from free and subsidised education to destroy our national heritage and educational system,” ASUU said.

ASUU which reaffirmed its commitment to industrial peace and harmony noted that it remained and committed to placing quality education of all Nigerians in its rightful place.

“We are here to reaffirm that we are committed to ensuring qualitative and affordable higher education for all Nigerians and nothing will make us renege from this sacred responsibility,” it added.

The union frowned at the government’s insensitivity to the plight of the university lecturers and lack of commitment to implementing agreements entered with the union and the infrastructural decays.

It therefore called on relevant authorities to do the needful to avert another looming crisis that could lead to further devaluation of standards in the university education.

“We are also making a clarion call to all Nigerians to join hands with ASUU to salvage the Nigerian university system from total collapse.

“We are also using this medium to warn that the ritual of ASUU’s preparation for another round of strike has just begun.

“Arising from the texts of press conferences after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union held recently at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), the cloud is gathering for a show down if the needful is not done very quickly.

“You will recall that ASUU has reached an agreement with the government in 2009, which is supposed to be reviewed three years later; for 15 years now, that agreement has not been wholly implemented, let alone reviewed.

“As a consequence, lecturers in public universities have remained stuck with the same poor condition of service,” the union said.

ASUU called on the government to urgently set up a committee to review the agreement reached by its leadership and Prof. Nimi Brigs-led Government committee to further look at the document, adjust it according to the current economic realities.

The union condemned the government’s sustained use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) payment platform saying that the system usurped the powers of the university councils.

The group rejected continued withholding of three and half months salaries of members, non-payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) and promotion arrears among other alleged injustices.

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