The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has expressed regrets that with the action of the Federal Government that Universities would not resume again this year.
ASUU also stated that FG was playing with future of Nigerian students, adding that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, cannot curb corruption in the university system as claimed by the government.
This was contained in a statement signed by Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, Zonal Coordinator, ASUU, Port Harcourt zone, Comrade Emmanuel Akpan, Chairperson, Federal University Otuoke (FUO) Comrade Endurance Joseph, Chairperson, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Comrade Tonbara Kingdom, Chairperson, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island and Comrade Austen Sado, Chairperson, University of Port Harcourt.
Speaking for the zone in Port Harcourt, the zonal coordinator, Onyebinama, said with the attitude of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, that universities would not be able to resume again in 2020.
The union coordinator said it was painful that universities have lost two academic sessions, explaining that students admitted in this academic season were yet to take their first semester examinations.
He noted that the new set of students were already waiting to be admitted, adding that when school resumed it would be difficult to manage the situation.
He said: “His (Ngige) recent comments on Channels TV is a signal that Universities cannot reopen this 2020 and this government gambling with the future of Nigerian Youths.
“The handwriting has always been on the wall about the reluctance of this government to take necessary steps to ensure that our universities reopen this year.”
He stated that the IPPIS cannot stop corruption in the universities, stating that only Visitation Panels could do so.
Onyebinama said: “IPPIS is not the legal instrument for solving the problem of monumental fraud perpetrated by some administrators of the universities.
“IPPIS taxes rent subsidy, allowances for journals, conferences, hazard etc., as such and for instance, an Associate Professor at the bar pays a tax of about 672 thousand naira per annum.
“IPPIS breaches the due process for enrolment in the national housing scheme. IPPIS deducts pensions from the allowances earlier listed. IPPIS breaches university autonomy. IPPIS breaches the law.
“The legal instrument to probe corruption in the universities is the Visitation Panels. For almost a decade, ASUU has been clamouring for the constitution of visitation panels to federal universities.
“We are told that they are at the point of gazetting the panels for several weeks now. Maybe they will need like another five years to do the gazetting.”
He, however, advised the FG to work their talk by showing zero tolerance for corruption, even as he decried the proliferation of universities by state governors who could not sustain existing ones.
He said: “State governments are proliferating universities without adequate funding for already established ones. Most Vice -Chancellors of state universities are at the beck and call of their visitors, unable to take any decision without recourse to their visitors.”
“This struggle is not just for ASUU members. It belongs to the Nigerian people, the masses of this country. We are already down and he that is down has no reason to fear a fall. Let us all stand up for our public universities.”