The Niger Delta University, NDU, owned by the Bayelsa State Government is indebted to financial institutions to the tune of N1 billion, being loans it took to augment subventions given it by Bayelsa State Government to pay salaries.
The branch Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, NDU, Dr. Tonbara Kingdom disclosed this on Wednesday in Yenagoa at a press briefing on the ongoing national strike by public university lecturers.
Kingdom said the N420 million subvention given to the university to pay workers was never adequate to offset wage bills and so the management of the university often borrowed money to augment the subvention to pay workers.
He said the state does not fund the operational and capital projects of the university. And that left the university to depend on fees paid by students to pay its bills. Unfortunately, he said, out of the 20,000 students of the university, only 6,000 of them are able to pay their fees. That he said created a huge funding gap that the management had to find a way of filling.
He said the major projects that had been executed in the university were done by the Tertiary education Trust Fund (TETFUND), which is a product of the engagement of ASUU with the federal government.
The ASUU chairman lamented that there was no staff accommodation at the university’s main campus in Amassoma and this made most of the staff to go to work from Yenagoa.
He said that ASUU has given notice that its members would embark on a fresh strike at the end of the ongoing national strike ASUU if Bayelsa State Government fails to respond to its demands on NDU.
“We call on the Bayelsa State Government to quickly resolve the pending and nagging issues of poor funding and staff welfare for the Niger Delta University to avert industrial xrissis immediately the national ASUU strike is suspended.
“We have written severally to the state government and we have not got any response. The earlier they do this the better for everyone. Our rembers are getting frustrated and tired,” Dr. Kingdom lamented.
On the prevailing national ASUU Strike, Dr. Kingdom said ASUU was not going back on its demands because government had not shown sincerity in implementing the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it entered into with ASUU in 2009 with respect to funding of the universities and benefits of university lecturers.
These issues he said include Revitalisation Fund for Public Universities, arrears of earned academic allowances, visitation to universities, proliferation of state universities and renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement.
The NDU ASUU regretted that rather than face the issues, the Federal Government and the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, in particular, were busy trying to whip up public sentiment against the lecturers.
“The issues raised in the 2019 MoA and all previous MoUs are very integral to the continued survival of the public university system. The bottom line in the persistent struggles of our union is about ensuring a guaranteed access to university education by the average Nigerian,” Dr. Kingdom said.