By Michael Oche
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), has urged the federal Governments to put a stop to the practice of indiscriminate establishment of tertiary institutions in every part of the country by both the Federal and the State Governments.
NUSU which lamented poor funding of tertiary education across the country said the situation is compounded by the indiscriminate establishment of tertiary institutions “in every hamlet in the country”, saying that there is need to focus on more funding for already existing institutions.
President of NASU, Comrade Makolo Hassan made the call at the 8th Quadrennial Delegates Conference with the theme ” Trade Unionism in the Era of Economic Crisis: Addressing the Increasing Poverty Level of Nigerian Workers,” on Tuesday in Abuja.
Comrade Hassan also said state governors were the biggest beneficiaries of the fuel subsidy removal which has plunged millions of Nigerians into abject poverty, as they continue to grapple with a high cost of living.
To this end, the Union has asked state governments to replicate the federal government’s wage award to federal employees as an interim measure to cushion the hardship occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal, to ensure they do so.
He said: “In view of the fact that all State government workers are equally affected by the same hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, we call on the remaining state governments to, as a matter of urgency, announce and implement their awards.
“State governments have no option than to do so because they are the biggest beneficiaries of fuel subsidy removal in view of the quantum of increase in the allocations they are now receiving from the Federation account.”
Hassan also called on President Bola Tinubu to kick start the processes to review the current National Minimum Wage Act, as workers were struggling to survive the harsh economy and an extremely high cost of living which was no longer commensurate with their take home pay.
While noting that the country was facing an economic crisis, the NASU President lamented that the monetary policies of the immediate past and current government has given rise to an inflation rate of 27.3 percent, an exchange rate of as high as N1,100 to a dollar as at the time of report, and the high price of pump price of petrol currently at N640 per litre, and as such, was making mockery of the current minimum wage.
He said the inadequate funding of tertiary institutions by Federal and State Governments has reached a critical juncture, leading to infrastructural decay, poor service delivery and low staff morale.
He said, “This is evident in the quality of products from these institutions. A country faced with this situation cannot be talking of quality manpower and development. This is at the heart of the reoccurring disputes between the Federal Government and Unions in the educational sector.
“We, however, acknowledge the effort of the Federal Government towards addressing the lack and decay of infrastructure in the education sector over the years through the establishment of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and other interventions of the Federal Government such as the revitalization fund that came in through Needs Assessment.
“These efforts, notwithstanding, funding of education falls short of UNESCO’s recommendation of 26% allocation to the education sector in National budgets. It is therefore heartwarming, hearing from Government officials that the current administration will strive towards meeting UNESCO’s recommended benchmark for funding of education.”