CEM REPORT, EDUCATION | Education has been recognised to be a pivotal fulcrum to birth development and hold a nation together. Hence nations invest in the education sector of their economy to breed innovation and national development. Nigeria has been on the flip side of such policy, under-investment, incessant strikes especially over the welfare of lecturers and under-development have characterized the universities in the country.
Perhaps, the new administration might be up to calm the storm ravaging the sector as it has said the government cannot continue to fund the education sector (universities) as it has done in the past.
Although the presidency did not give comprehensive details on how the sector will be funded it noted that the education sector will be funded through appropriation and special interventions.
The Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Zephaniah Jisalo, said this at the 27th Convocation Ceremony of the University of Abuja.
He assured the university-based unions that any agreements and memoranda signed between them and the government henceforth would be implemented.
“The situation has been exacerbated by the harsh realities of recent global and national economic down-turns, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Therefore, the time has come for all stakeholders in the education sector, including the students, staff, unions, parents and guardians, the public and private sectors, to coalesce around the consensus that education is the responsibility of all and sundry.”
Jisalo decried the incessant strike embarked on by university-based unions stressing that the action has crippled the Nigerian public universities’ growth over time.
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Whilst he recognised the legitimacy and driving effect of strikes, he appealed to staff unions for their display of patriotism and sacrifice and sought other means to get their demands met. He however pledged that the present administration will seek out means to ensure that the universities are not subjected to unnecessary closures in the future.
“Indeed, the humongous cost of unending industrial actions on the nation’s overall well-being is unquantifiable. That is why the government is deeply appreciative of all those who have contributed to the resolution of the last prolonged industrial action in the nation’s public universities,” he said.
“We also commend the staff unions for their display of patriotism and sacrifice by calling off the strikes. The resolution of the crisis proved eloquently, that no challenge is insurmountable when all are motivated by a shared vision, commitment and unity of purpose.”
Furthermore, Jisalo said the government is making ready the required machinery to reconstitute the governing boards of federal universities in the nation.
Adding that the new boards would be charged with prioritising the implementation of various visitation panel reports in the universities, he noted that the government would not accept mediocre performance or implementation of the white paper.
“Efforts are ongoing to reconstitute the governing councils of the universities to reinvigorate the institutions in line with the renewed hope mandate of my administration.
“When inaugurated, the councils will be expected to commence immediately, the implementation of the white papers of the various visitation panels in their respective universities.”
Recall that the president in June dissolved the governing councils of all parastatals under the various ministries, hence universities have been without a governing council since.