In­ter­ven­tion fund: An­other strike looms in var­si­ties

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Mis­bahu Bashir & Abene Kelvin Ndoma

Afresh cri­sis may soon erupt in the na­tion’s univer­sity sys­tem over the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to re­lease N7.6bn as in­ter­ven­tion fund to pub­lic univer­si­ties across the coun­try, Daily Trust find­ings have shown.

The gov­ern­ment had in 2013 set aside about N1.3tril­lion as in­ter­ven­tion fund to up­grade and de­velop crit­i­cal in­fras­truc­ture in the in­sti­tu­tions.

The de­ci­sion was part of the res­o­lu­tions reached be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the the Aca­demic Staff Union of Univer­si­ties (ASSU) to end the in­dus­trial ac­tion that lasted for about five months.

But the Deputy Di­rec­tor, Press and Pub­lic Re­la­tions at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Mr. Ben Bem Goong, in a re­ac­tion, said gov­ern­ment was un­able to re­deem its to­tal pledge be­cause it ran short of money as a re­sult of the dwin­dling oil prices and rev­enue. He said gov­ern­ment had ad­e­quate plans to re­vamp ed­u­ca­tion but had to man­age the im­pact of dwin­dling rev­enue and strug­gle to fi­nance the 2016 bud­get.

“How much was a bar­rel of oil in 2012 when the pledge was made and how much is it now? The agree­ment was reached when oil was about $100 per bar­rel, the price has crashed now and there isn’t sufficient money to fund projects,” he said.

How­ever, an in­dus­trial ac­tion by ASUU is im­mi­nent, as stake­hold­ers say the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had re­neged on the agree­ment.

Sources told our cor­re­spon­dents that the gov­ern­ment is yet to re­lease over N 700 bil­lion cov­er­ing for 2014, 2015, 2016 and the bal­ance for 2013.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, since the agree­ment was reached be­tween the two par­ties in 2012, only about N100 bil­lion has been given to the in­sti­tu­tions.

Gov­ern­ment had dur­ing the in­dus­trial ac­tion by ASUU, set up a Com­mit­tee on Needs As­sess­ments of Nige­rian Univer­si­ties( CNANU), which was chaired by the then Benue State gov­er­nor, Gabriel Suswam, to come up with a sus­tain­able and work­able so­lu­tion to the in­ces­sant strike ac­tions by the univer­si­ties.

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