Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday denied receiving N163billion from the federal government, accusing it of spreading lies in its bid to force the union to suspend its three-month-old strike.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had last week disclosed that federal government had released the sum of N163 billion to Nigerian universities from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) as part of efforts to end the ongoing strike.
But the union yesterday said the federal government was spreading lies to force the union to suspend its industrial action.
It also said as a patriotic union of intellectuals, it had always been fighting for better funding of public universities so that the students who are the future leaders of the country would have good education to compete with their peers all over the world.
ASUU who made the accusation in a statement titled, ‘Re: N163billion released to ASUU: Putting the record straight’, signed by the Ibadan Zonal Coordinator of the union, Dr Ade Adejumo, called on the federal government to concentrate efforts at finding a quick resolution of the impasse rather than dissipate energy on fake news and cheap propaganda aimed at tarnishing the image of the union.
He described the federal government as mischievous in misinforming the public when it knows that ASUU only fight for better education while university administration and Governing Council receive the funds made available to universities. According to him, government knows that it is Governing Councils and university administrations that receive and spend all the money coming to the university, adding that contracts and all capital projects are awarded by the councils that are appointed by the federal government and not ASUU.
The union then enjoined vice chancellors and Governing Councils to stop behaving like vultures but should come out and openly put the record straight each time government comes out with deliberate falsehood that money has been released to ASUU.
The statement read in part, “Once again, the attention of our union has been drawn to another piece of misinformation which gives the impression that ASUU collects money from government. For umpteenth time, let it be known that our union is a patriotic organisation whose activities are driven by principled conviction that the resources of the country can better be managed for the ultimate benefit of the Nigerian society, especially the education sector which is our immediate constituency. The government and all civilized individuals are aware of how the university is managed, so also the resources available to it.
“The government knows that it is the council and the university administration that receives and spends all the money coming into the university. ASUU doesn’t receive money from government and doesn’t spend it. Even money meant for our salaries and other allowances come directly to the university administration which prepares the budget and manages it. ASUU members collect only their salaries as paid by the university. Contracts and all the capital projects are awarded by the councils that are appointed by the government, not ASUU.
“It is in the context of the above that our union calls on the vice-chancellors and council chairmen to stop behaving like vultures that wait silently by the sidelines, waiting for the game to fall only to descend on the carcass. They should join forces with ASUU in its struggles to attract requisite funding into our public universities rather than working at cross purposes with us.
“Part of the least expected from them is to come out openly to put the record straight each time the government come out with the deliberate falsehood that money has been released to ASUU. They, ie , council and the vice-chancellors, are the receiving and spending agents. Simple honour demands that they publicly own up to this fact. Their silence in this regard leaves room for unfair speculation about ASUU.”