The Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU) has commenced an indefinite strike. When contacted, the chairman of ASUU at Obafemi Awolowo University, Adeola Egbedokun, said the strike is total and indefinite until the union’s needs are met. The strike is to protest the poor funding of Nigerian universities and alleged plan by the federal government to increase students fees and introduce an education bank.
Led by its National President, Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU declared the strike at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting late on Sunday. Weeks before the strike was announced, Mr Ogunyemi explained in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES why the lecturers were opposed to an education bank.
“The Nigerian government experimented with it for 7-8 years; it failed.
“So government had to set up a ministerial committee at the federal executive council to go and wind up the national education banking plan in 2001/2002, something they started in 1993. So for seven to eight years, the experiment failed. Why did it fail? Government was not living up to its financial obligations towards the bank. There was widespread corruption, capacity of students to pay back the loan was not there, because there were no jobs and there are still no jobs.
“So you can imagine what will become of a bank that the loan equipment is not coming or is very low, the rate of payment is low or not coming. And we told them all of these but they went ahead to come up with the idea that well, we have calculated the cost of what we need to train an undergraduate and they have estimated that it will be N1 million that they will borrow from the bank. These students will borrow 1 million, but when they borrow, 70 per cent of it will be paid directly into the universities and 30 per cent will be given to students to maintain themselves. We smelt a rat. Why? Why are you insisting that students who do not have the capacity to pay should borrow and that this time around the money will not be given to them will be paid directly to universities irrespective of whether private or public,” the don said.