Following threat by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shut private universities if the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), persists, the Alumni Association of Madonna University, Okija, has appealed to the students association to shelve the idea of clamping down on private universities in the country in order to force the federal government to respond to the demands of the striking university lecturers.
Making this appeal at a press briefing, weekend, in Abuja, National President of the association, Mr. Chima Achu said, the move would not only complicate the ASUU-FG crisis but also degenerate to a state of anarchy and lawlessness.
“In a state of anarchy, little can be achieved, that is why it is imperative that they rescind their decision.I strongly believe dialogue is a better option,” he said.
Achu, who is also a member of the university’s governing council, appealed to the federal government to allow private universities benefit from the Education Trust Fund (ETF), saying several private universities applied for fund from ETF but were denied.
“I also call on the federal government to include private universities as beneficiaries of ETF. The current restriction is an unfair treatment that is inimical to the growth of education in Nigeria. The ETF established in 1993 provides that all private companies remit two per cent tax on declared profits to give extra-budgetary support to public higher education,” he said.
Achu also urged ASUU to end the strike since the Federal Government had made some concession by releasing funds for infrastructural development of the universities and also for accrued allowances.
“On the current ASUU strike, I call on ASUU to sheathe their swords and call off the strike as the federal government has made some concessions by releasing funds both for infrastructural development in the universities and also for their accrued allowances,” he said.
NANS decision to shut private universities was premised on the belief that children of political office holders in the country either school abroad or in private universities in Nigeria. But Achu said NANS was wrong in its assumption, stating that less than two per cent population of students in private varsities can be traced to those in government.
“On the recent call by NANS to clamp down on private universities, that is not necessary as the assumption by NANS that children of political office holders attend private universities in Nigeria is not completely true. Less than two per cent are in private universities and as such, the clamp down will worsen the educational system in Nigeria,” he stated.