Says Universities to Reopen Soon

THE federal government on Wednesday inaugurated a new committee to renegotiate the 2009 agreement it had with unions in public universities, which include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Associate of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).

While inaugurating the new committee, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said the present administration is committed to finding lasting solution to the problems facing the education sector, and most especially, the university system in the country.

According to Mallam Adamu, the team is expected to review the 2009 Agreement reached with the university-based unions and work with each union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system.

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“It has also become necessary and urgent that all hands must now be on deck to restore the confidence reposed in university education by students, parents and the general public.

“As you are quite aware, the federal government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months, have been neck-deep in several meetings with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities,” Mallam Adamu said.

He added that the government is determined to within available resources provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian universities. “Government, like other stakeholders, is also worried about the vicious cycle over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other. The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action,” the minister said while stressing that all these variables have impacted negatively on learning and the reputation of the Nigerian university system, which used to be the pride of the nation.

The minister said the government is hopeful that with the inauguration of the committee, public universities will soon resume activities like their private counterparts. The committee, he said, is expected to re-negotiate the 2009 agreement between the federal government and the university-based unions.

Terms of reference
According to the minister, the committee has been carefully selected in recognition of their records in university management and academic leadership.

The terms of reference of the Committee include; Mallam Adamu said, include re-negotiation of the residual issues in the 2009 Agreements between the federal government and the university-based unions towards a workable and implementable agreement between both parties such that will facilitate repositioning of Nigerian universities for greater responsibilities in national development; propose and prescribe short, medium and long-term measures for the sustainable funding and management of federal universities in order to restore lasting peace, stability, harmony and progress in the Nigerian university system; and any other recommendations relevant to the smooth administration of the university system.

In his remark, the chairman of the committee, Prof Jibril, thanked the government for considering them worthy of the task. He said the committee will commence work immediately with the aim of producing a good result within a short time.

Composition of the committee
The federal government team is categorised into substantive members, advisers and observers, headed by Munzali Jibril, an emeritus professor and Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Lafia.

The members of the committee include Amb. Chief Dr (Mrs) Nimota Nihinola Akanbi; the Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi (representing North-Central), Prof Emeritus Nimi Briggs, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, (representing South-South); Arch. Lawrence P. Ngbale; Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Wukari (representing North-East); Prof Femi Odekunle, Pro-Chancellor, FUT, Minna (representing South-West); Senator (Dr) Nkechi Nworgu, Pro-Chancellor, University of Calabar (representing South-East); Prof  Shehu Abdullahi, Pro-Chancellor, Kaduna State University (representing North-West); and Senator (Maj. Gen.) Mamman Magoro, Pro-Chancellor, Kebbi State University (representing state-owned universities).

The advisers include the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC); Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVC); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of State-owned Universities; Chairman, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Secretary, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Chairman, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU), and Secretary, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU).

The observer category, Mallam Adamu said, include representatives from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning, Federal Ministry of Justice, Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, and Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

In attendance at the inauguration were representatives of ASUU, NASU and SSANU and other stakeholders in the university system.

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