FG & State Governments Must IMPLEMENT AGREEMENTS with ASUU, NASU, SSANU, NAAT, ASUP, SSANIP, COEASU, SSUCOEN & NUT!!!
EDUCATION IS A RIGHT! SYSTEM CHANGE IS OUR GOAL!!
Text of a press conference held in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Monday, September 16th 2013
Dear Media compatriots,
1. The Joint Action Front (JAF), the pro-Labour civil society component of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) welcomes you to this media briefing, to unfold its latest planned action holding in Abeokuta, Ogun State on September 19th to SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION in the country. The mobilisation for the Nationwide Protest to Save Public Education by JAF kicked off in Lagos on August 13th and a Zonal Protest of the South-South held in Calabar on August 27th. The North-West Zonal Protest scheduled for Kano on August 20th couldn’t hold because of the “suspicious and premeditated” security scenario created by the state security operatives, but JAF is resolved to go ahead with the Protest in Kano soonest.
2. JAF is committed to the nationwide, zonal and state protests until the Government is compelled to give Public Education the priority attention it deserves. It is in line with this that we welcome other independent actions taken by Students in Port-Harcourt, Ekiti, and NANS Zone D Symposium held in Ilesa on September 7th and urge all students, workers (in formal and informal sectors), parents and pro-people organisations across the country to join the mass mobilisation to save public education.
3. Students from the Universities have been home since July 1st because of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike action. For 3 months, polytechnic students had their academic calendar disrupted for similar reasons. The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) just last week had a warning strike. All these have implication for disruption of the academic calendars, falling standards of education at all levels, a high level of general insecurity and a bleak future for the current generation and the Nigerian Child.
WHY GOVERNMENT IS IRRESPONSIBLE TO PUBLIC EDUCATION?
4. Governments at all levels (Federal, State & Local) in Nigeria operate anti-poor policies and this is clearly expressed in their lack of disposition to Public Education. Funding of Public Education is not given the proper priority it deserves, because the children of those in Governments and their friends are being trained in private schools in Nigeria and foreign countries with the looted public funds. Yet, the politicians (at the Presidency, State Governments, National and State Assemblies), top civil servants, traditional rulers and their cronies of contractors and patrons were beneficiaries of Public Education.
5. Also, public officials and their cronies set up out-of-reach-of-the-poor private schools and universities in Nigeria and abroad with stolen fund from the public coffers. This is why none of their children are in any public school in the country. It also explains why they are not bothered when PUBLIC primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are shut and pupils and students have to remain at home for as long as the unions are frustrated to resume without Government acceding to their legitimate demands.
6. We disclosed in our previous statements the striking case of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, who enjoyed free tuition in University of Benin in the 80s, without which he wouldn’t have been educated. Yet, the same Governor Fashola turned Lagos State University (LASU) into a high cost fee paying university from N25,000 to N320,000, thereby throwing children of the poor who voted for him and who his Government refused to pay the N18,000 Minimum Wage, out of education.
GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR UNIONS GOING ON STRIKE!
7. Government should be blamed for all the crises in the education sector, including the incessant strikes. The Unions in education sector are not making fresh demands. They are on strike because Government (FG & State) FAILED to IMPLEMENT agreements they freely entered into and signed with the unions. For example, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has been on a number of strikes since 2009 because Government failed to IMPLEMENT the Teacher Special Scale (TSS) that was a product of Agreement with Government in 1992.
8. The polytechnics were shut for almost three months (end of April to 1st week in July) because of the Failure by Government to implement the 2009 Agreement on the creation of a National Polytechnic Commission that will regulate education standards in the polytechnics, Non-Commencement of the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUP Agreements as contained in the signed 2009 Agreement and Failure by the FG to release the White Paper on the Visitations to the Polytechnics.
9. Colleges of Education started its warning Strike on September 9th because of Government’s REFUSAL to implement 2010 Agreement, to carry out NEEDS Assessment of Colleges of Education, and to commence re-negotiation of the Agreement.
10. Equally, ASUU has been on strike since July 1st because Government failed to honour agreement signed in 2009. “The 2009 Agreement with ASUU was on funding facilities and infrastructure in the universities to ensure the revitalization of the facilities and academic programmes; IMPELEMENTATION of the NEEDS Assessment Report as agreed in the MOU of January 24th 2012 between the FG and ASUU on the standardization and effective running of the universities; and Failure to pay legitimately earned allowances of the academic and non-academic staff”.
WHAT WE MEAN BY SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION?
11. The deplorable state of tertiary institutions across the country is such that they are near total collapse except there is urgent intervention. For instance, out of 1.7million students that sat for UTME in the current year, less than 500,000 will be offered admission to all the tertiary institutions. This is as a result of inadequate personnel, and facilities and dilapidated infrastructure. The appalling state of learning is worrisome to the extent that students in the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education use Stove to carry out experiments in the laboratory instead of Bunsen burner. How can such a situation be conducive for academic learning and global standards competitiveness?
12. Therefore, central to Save Public Education is to INSIST that Governments in Nigeria MUST Fund EDUCATION in line with international standard of 26% and make Education tuition-free at all levels. Funding Education adequately means the repair and building of new infrastructures (classrooms with audio-visuals, furniture, hostels, electricity, water, etc) in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) and the provisions of up-to-date facilities (laboratory, books, hostels, teaching aids, etc).
13. SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION at the tertiary level means Autonomy and Academic Freedom in the administration and running of the institutions, i.e. students, lecturers and non-teaching staff should be in the better position, without government’s interference, determine through democratic participation its choices of Vice-Chancellor, Heads of Departments, independence of the unions, accountability in fund management and to rid the institutions of substandard education, impositions and sharp corrupt practices.
FG IS DECEPTIVE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2009 AGREEMENT IT REACHED WITH ASUU
14. The FG‘s so-called intent of fund release of N130billion to the Vice Chancellors begs the issue. The fact of the 2009 Agreement is as follows:
· In 2001, the FG entered into an agreement with ASUU aimed at resuscitating the University System in Nigeria and saving the system from total collapse. The Agreement provides for re-negotiation every three years for impact assessment and its implementation.
· The Agreement was due for re-negotiation in 2004 but the FG reneged. Re-negotiation didn’t take place until 2007 and it lasted more than two years to produce the 2009 Agreement, which the FG is refusing to implement.
·The contents of the 2009 Agreement were: Funding, Review of laws that impinge on university autonomy, Earned allowances to entitled academic staff, etc.
·On Funding, the FG AGREED with ASUU that the sum of One trillion, five hundred and eighteen billion, three hundred and thirty one million, five hundred and forty five thousand three hundred and four naira (N1,518,331,545,304:00) would be required in three years and distributed as follows: 2009 (N472,031,575,919), 2010 (N497,531,778,701) & 2011 (N548,768,190,681).
· To provide the Fund (N1,518,331,545,304:00) as agreed, the FG was to ensure that (a) a minimum of 26% of the annual budget is allocated to education. Other funding sources identified were Education Tax Fund, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Patronage of University Services, Funds from Alumni Associations, Private Sector Contributions, etc.
· As at date, JAF makes bold to state that the FG has refused to IMPLEMENT the Agreement, whose funding component ought to have been concluded in 2011. Instead, what the FG tries to smartly cover up and deceive the general public, in the guise of Government’s being BROKE, is to provide N100bn out of the agreed N1.518trillion. The other N30bn the FG said it has also approved is said to be for the earned allowances of N92bn it owed. This is the fallacy of the N130bn the FG claimed it has approved for immediate release.
· The general public should know that the N92bn in question is the legitimately earned allowances of academic and non-academic staff for three and half years.
· It is equally important to state that Funds are never released to ASUU or any of the other unions in the education sector. Funds are directly released to the management of the various institutions. The issue therefore should be clear that Government should IMPLEMENT the agreement.
FG IS NOT BROKE!
15. It is important for JAF to state clearly that the Federal Government is not broke. The import of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of all Ministers – Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s reckless statement is that the FG is irresponsible to Education and social welfare of Nigerians but it is not broke to pay IMF and World Bank hundreds of billions annually to service external debt.
- The FG is BROKE because Mrs. Iweala is playing the script of the IMF and World Bank to facilitate the looting of Nigerian resources into the coffer of foreign capital. It is an agenda that was pioneered by the Obasanjo military regime in 1978 when the first JUMBO LOAN was taken to put Nigeria into the club of debt enslavement.
- But the FG was not BROKE for Mrs. Iweala to facilitate the “ACT TO AUTHORISE THE ISSUE FROM THE CONSOLIDATED REVENUE OF THE FEDERATION THE TOTAL SUM OF (N1,612,000,000,000.00) ONE TRILLION, SIX HUNDRED AND TWELVE BILLION NAIRA OR EQUIVALENT TO (US $12,400,000,000.00) TWELVE BILLION, FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS ONLY FOR PAYMENT OF OUTSTANDING DEBT OWED TO THE PARIS CLUB OF CREDITORS through the 2006 ACT No. 5 dated 17th Day of December, 2005.
- The FG was not broke when Mallam Lamido Sanusi CBN Governor bailed out failed banks (Oceanic, Intercontinental, etc) with N620 billion of PUBLIC FUND to private selfish businesses.
- The FG was not broke when Mrs. Iweala admitted that N2.6trillion was paid as fuel subsidy for un-delivered fuel in 2012 to the cronies of the presidency.
- Just last week (September 12th) the Central Bank Report exposed the fraudulent deception of Nigerians by Mrs. Ngozi Iweala that Government is broke. The Report stated that “Total federally-collected revenue in July 2013 was estimated at N1.05tn. This exceeded the provisional monthly budget estimate and the receipt in the preceding month by 11.1 and 33.7 per cent, respectively. At N645.65bn, oil receipts (gross), which constituted 61.5 per cent of the total revenue, was above the provisional monthly budget estimate and the level in the preceding month by 0.2 and 15.4 per cent, respectively. The rise in oil receipts, relative to the budget estimate, was attributed, largely, to the increase in receipts from the Petroleum Profit Tax, royalties, and domestic crude oil and gas sales in the review period. Non-oil receipts (gross), at N404.53bn (38.5 per cent of the total), was higher than both the provisional monthly budget estimate and the level in the preceding month by 34.6 and 79.1 per cent, respectively. The rise in receipts relative to the monthly budget estimate reflected, largely, the increased receipts from corporate tax, customs and excise duties and customs special levies. Non-oil export receipts increased by 281.9 per cent above the level in the preceding month. This was attributed largely to the rise in receipts from the industrial, manufactured and agricultural products sectors”.
- The implication of the above quoted CBN report is that NIGERIA IS NOT BROKE. The Minister of Finance should explain where goes the excess fund if estimated retained revenue was N365.72bn, estimated expenditure was N431.09bn and revenue realised is N1.03trn – a difference of N618.91bn?
Protest to SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION Continues in Abeokuta! THE RESISTANCE MUST CONTINUE!!
16. The position of JAF is that in a polity where Government is irresponsible to the social welfare needs of the people, it is only through RESISTANCE and MASS ACTION that the people can gain their rights to liberty and pursuit of meaningful existence. It is in line with this that we in JAF resolved to mobilize stakeholders in the Education sector across the country. The rallies/procession are buildup towards a NATIONWIDE MASS PROTEST that will become inevitable should the Government remains insensitive.
17. In furtherance of the above, the MASS PROTEST will hold in Abeokuta on Thursday, September 19th 2013 @ 7am prompt. There will be MASS PROCESSION from the NNPC Mega Station Junction – Kuto – Isabo – Kemta – Sapon – Ibara. At the final point of the Mass Procession in Ibara, there will be PUBLIC VIEWING of the report showing the rots in the universities across the country.
DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!
Comrade ABIODUN AREMU