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  • News - South South - Cross River
  • Updated: May 27, 2024

Student loan: ASUU kicks against policy, calls for intervention in tertiary institutions

Student loan: ASUU kicks against policy, calls for intervent

The Federal Government's planned Student Education Loan has drawn strong opposition from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Calabar Zone.

Not only was the loan called "strangulating," but it also had the potential to make the students who would benefit from it into slaves, indebtedness for life, depression, and even suicide according to the union. 

Speaking at a press conference on Monday in the capital of Akwa Ibom State, Happiness Uduk, the ASUU's Zonal Coordinator, was accompanied by the chairmen of every chapter in the zone. 

She expressed how disheartening it was that those who benefited from meal subsidies, bursary awards, and school scholarships were also the ones enacting some of these offensive policies and vowed that the union would not back down from its opposition.

In a joint statement from the eight union chairs, Uduk argued that the government should use the funds for interventions in higher education institutions rather than loans for students' tuition. 

She claimed that this would result in a favourable turn of events and make the institutions self-sufficient, providing heavily subsidised tertiary education across the nation.

“It is disheartening that people who attended schools on scholarship, enjoyed meal subsidies, free laundry services and bursary awards are the same running our economy today.

“Their Children are on scholarships in the best foreign universities in the world but after siphoning our economy, they turn around to impose a strangulating Education Loan in taxpayers’ children so that they will be enslaved and remain indebted to the country forever.

“They do not mind the devastating effect of this scheme on the country, such as depression, suicide, and colossal loss of intellectuals.

“To this end, we vehemently condemn the idea of Education Loan and state clearly that using the money for intervention in higher Institutions will be about a positive turn-around of events that will make our institutions self-reliant on highly subsidized tertiary education in Nigeria.”

The union also demanded that the federal government hold new negotiations and form a committee to review the agreement that the ASUU leadership and the government committee led by Prof. Nimi Brigs reached.

The committee's goal was to modify the agreement to reflect the current state of the economy and create a salary structure that would be acceptable for university lecturers.

The union denounced the haphazard growth of universities in Nigeria without sufficient funding from the federal and state governments, pointing out that the 2020 ASUU-FGN Memorandum of Action (MoA), which emphasised the necessity of revising the NUC Act to strengthen its ability to halt the excessive and careless founding of universities, ought to be fully executed.

“We urge the President Tinubu-led administration to refrain from further proliferation of universities and rather consolidate on the already existing ones. What we need are universities that are adequately equipped and empowered to address the challenges confronting Nigeria, not glorified schools,” the statement added.

Regarding the ongoing minimum wage negotiations, the ASUU Calabar Zone asked the Federal Government (FG) to use collective bargaining as soon as possible to end the social conversation. They claimed that doing so would decrease the intrusive degradation in Nigerians' socioeconomic lives.

To regain Nigeria's sovereignty and win back the trust of its citizens, it also asked the federal, state, and local governments to critically examine any unfeasible policies and initiatives supported by foreign financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF.

However, the union also recommended that suspended students at Ebonyi State University be recalled in compliance with the rulings and directives of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria and that governments and their agencies read the Act establishing universities and cease interfering with and endangering the autonomy of the universities, particularly in terms of policy, academic planning, and administration.

It further stated that unpaid academic salaries in all institutions ought to be paid right away, warning that if their demands weren't met, they would take industrial action. Although it regretted having to use a strike to make its demands heard, it was the only language the government could understand.

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