Following the rejection of Dr Wale Babalakin as the Chairman, Government Renegotiating Team of the 2009 ASUU/Federal Government of Nigeria Agreement, on Tuesday, by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, the FG’s team has thrown its weight behind Babalakin.
ASUU had described the chairman of the renegotiating team as a ‘stumbling block of the negotiation process’ as he sought to introduce tuition fees, which the union considered unacceptable and unconstitutional.
The team, in a statement signed by Prof Olufemi Bamiro, Prof Nimi Briggs, Mr Lawrence Mgbale, Prof Munzali Jibrin and Dr Wale Babalakin, said that among other things, the views communicated by Babalakin were the collective views of the re-negotiating team, which were arrived at after an extensive debate.
The statement read, “The team insisted on the resolution of issues based on accurate data and verifiable information. The team is determined to avoid the pitfalls of previous negotiations which on certain occasions left loose ends that became the bases for future crises.
“The team believes that government should increase its funding of education. However, the team notes that based on the cost determined by the National Universities Commission, of above $3, 000 per student, per course, per annum, which has been accepted by ASUU, it will require about N1.8tn to fund university education alone, taking due cognisance of the level of enrolment of students.
“This amount of money exceeds the total capital release made under the 2017 budget of the Federal Government. The team does not believe that the government is in a position to provide this amount of money in a sustainable manner for the length of time required to turn around the educational system in Nigeria.”
Choosing good quality education over free education, the team said, “For the reasons stated above, the team believes that university education requires a robust funding from diverse sources and not from the government treasury alone. The team also observes that this position has been supported by the National Council on Education, which confirmed the need to fund education from sources other than the government treasury, including an education bank and student loan scheme.
The team is, therefore, of the opinion that if the choice is between free education and good quality education, the team prefers the latter.