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Monday, July 15, 2024
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    Resist FG access to pension fund, ASUU urges Nigerians

    The Academic Staff Union of Universities in the Niger Delta University, Amassoma in Bayelsa State, has urged Nigerians to resist plans of the Federal Government to use pension funds for developmental programmes.

     

    Addressing a press conference on Friday, ASUU chairperson, Lucky Bebeteidoh, said, “Of recent, we have watched the Minister of Finance say they want to dip their hands into the Pension Fund, that is the life-saving of a lot of Nigerians.”

     

    He said the FG is allowed by law to access only five per cent of the funds, “but they want to have it all” and urged Nigerians to resist the move.

     

    The academic staff who staged a protest to press home its demands, called on the FG to honour several memoranda it signed with ASUU on funding for the revitalisation of public universities.

     

    Members carried placards with inscriptions such as “Enough will be enough when all the necessary positive interventions are made in public universities”, “Implement UTAS in place of IPPIS: IPPIS is not suitable for universities” and “Niger Delta University needs improved funding from the Bayelsa State Government: NDU needs staff offices, lecture halls, laboratories & hostels for students.”

     

    Earlier, Bebeteidoh told journalists that the contentious issues include the illegal dissolution of governing councils, the release of three months of withheld salaries, the release of salaries of staff on sabbatical and the release of third-party deductions.

     

    Others are payment of EAA, proliferation of private universities, implementation of reports of visitation panels, implementation of UTAS in place of IPPIS and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement with ASUU.

     

    On the issue of renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, Bebeteidoh said after the initial payment by former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration nothing else has been paid until now.

     

    ASUU said it has resolved to increase media and public engagement on the government’s failure to renegotiate the 2009 agreement and begin the process of going on strike.

     

    Taking a swipe at those who had negotiated past agreements on behalf of the FG, he said, “Those same people who came to the union to negotiate, saying when we get into power there will be no longer strikes, ASUU will not need to go on strike. Today, it is those same set of persons that have become stumbling blocks to the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.

     

    “Release revitalisation funds that were budgeted for last year that have not been released. Those funds help in building infrastructure in public universities.”

    ASUU blames govt for Kebbi varsity’s woes

    Meanwhile, the union has also expressed displeasure over the lack of attention to the developmental needs of Niger Delta University by Governor Douye Diri, who is the visitor to the university.

    Bebeteidoh stated “Now, coming home as a statement university, we’ve submitted letters to the state government on the 35/25% wage award. The federal academic staff have started earning it with two months’ arrears paid to them last January and we believe more arrears have even been paid with the May/June salaries.

    “We expect the state government, Bayelsa State Government, to approve the 35/25% wage award with all urgency. We’re no different from federal lecturers that have started earning it.

    “On the issue of funding, we expect the state government to increase funding to the university. They chose the path of subvention. In our agreement signed September 2022, they chose the path of subvention and the subvention that they are bringing, we agreed that it should be increased annually, and it’s just been increased once.

    “Infrastructural development: if you go through the university as it is presently, what you see are federal projects – TETFUND, NEEDS Assessment, NDDC – and it’s a state university.

    “We are one of the few public universities that don’t have staff accommodation on campus. Staff have to commute from Yenagoa every day”.

    In conclusion, Bebeteidoh said, “We are also calling on the state government to see how they can build infrastructures in the Niger Delta University.

    “We need faculty buildings. Several of our faculties don’t have faculty buildings. We need staff accommodation. We need offices for staff. We need laboratories. How do you teach students without laboratories?

    “And we even need hostels for students. What we have here are not hostels. We can’t in good conscience call them hostels.

    “And the 35/25 per cent government should as soon as possible approve it for the staff of NDU”.

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