Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has disclosed that the federal government had planned to increase the school fees of university students to N1 million but the union rejected the idea.
He stated this while answering questions from participants at a one-day ‘state of the nation summit’ organized for ASUU members by the Bauchi zone of the Union.
The summit with the theme: ‘Nigeria: The State of the Nation’ was held at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
According to him, the federal government told the union during its last negotiations that it will open an education bank and give each student a loan of N1 million annually at five percent interest rate to sponsor themselves in school and they were to pay back when they graduate and start working.
“During this last negotiation, the first thing they told us was that we should negotiate for our allowances and salaries but we said no, let’s discuss funding first, when we know how much you’re going to pay, then we can negotiate salary. Reluctantly, they went on.
“Then, they raised another issue which was why we delayed for four years, that students must pay N1 million as school fees every year, that’s what the government said, 70% will be paid to the university while the student keeps 30%.
“We asked them where and how the students will source the money and they told us not to worry. They said they will open an education bank and the students will go there and take the N1 million every year.
“And by the time you are graduating, you would have been owing N5 million or N6 million. If it takes you 20 years to get a job, that 5 percent interest on that loan would be building. But we said we will never allow that, and that was why we went on strike and we delayed in calling off the strike,” he said.
He added that: “If we had accepted that students pay N1 million as school fees, they would have increased our pay easily and who would the public and the students blame? It is ASUU. If we had agreed that the students pay N1 million each and they increase my salary to N2 million monthly.”
Osodeke said that if ASUU had accepted that proposal, people would have accused them of fighting for their personal interests and not the collective good of Nigerians, “and that is why we are fighting for the system because we want to ensure that it works.
“And that is why the public institutions seem to be working today whether you like it or not. If you have removed TETFund and NEEDS Assessment and all others, the system would have collapsed by now.”
The ASUU President said that the Union participated in the general elections during the time of Prof. Attahiru Jega, but had to back out because their integrity was at stake.
He said: “We participated in one of the elections during the era of Jega. And when we finished, we felt they were still rigging even when we ensured that the system was okay. We then set up a committee to review, they did and came up with this finding: that we were placed at the top as Collation Officers, the results are brought from the bottom.
“They will rig the election at the bottom and bring the rigged results at the top to compile. We said no, that was our problem. In one of the elections I went for, the number of people in the voters’ list were exactly the number of people who voted. I asked the person who collated, “you mean nobody died? You mean everything was 100 percent?” I refused to accept it.
“Then we went to Jega and we told him that if he wants us to participate in the election, he should allow us participate from bottom to the top, our members whom we trust should be at the bottom and then come up to the top but they refused. And that was why we said we will not participate as a union in any election. We refused to just go and be confirming results we know are fake, that is the reason.”
He added that even the current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmoud, begged the union but they refused.
“We told him that for him to beg us, we must look at the system and ensure that our name is not smeared in the process and he refused. And we went on air and said we will not but our members are free to as individuals with not identity like face cap, t-shirts among others to show that you are an ASUU member.
“And that is why our colleague in Uyo is in jail today. If that man had gone under the name ASUU, ASUU would have been blamed for that man being in jail. That is why we are not participating in elections. Any day they uphold the system and allow us take complete hold of the system, we will participate but if otherwise, we will not,” he stated.We are social! follow us on: