By Demola Akinyemi
Ilorin â€” Chairman of the Governorsâ€™ Forum, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, has called for total independence of the councils of the universities in the country as a way to end the protracted crisis of funding in the education sector andÂ theÂ right pay for the lecturers.
Governor Saraki also denied insinuations that members of the Forum were against the proposed constitution amendment and would work against its passage at their respective Houses of Assembly.
He said the Forum was also seeking a meeting of the National Economic Council to see how members could implement the 27 per cent increase in the salaries of primary school teachers which many states were now finding difficult to implement.
Saraki, who spoke in an interview with newsmen after receiving the Emir of Ilorin at his house for the Sallah homage by the traditional ruler stressed that the future of tertiary education in Nigeria remained bleak unless councils of universities are allowed some level of independence.
According to him,â€œif the Federal Government agrees to pay the percentages that ASUU is demanding, I can assure you a lot of the state governments will not be able to replicate same in their universities. The gap between what governments can afford and what the lecturers are demanding is exponentially wide.
â€œI think we should shelf sentiment and consider the plight of the Nigerian students and go back to the negotiation table to chart a way forward. It is not that government is not committed to education.
Given government resources, even if it meets the demands of ASUU this year, by 2010, 2011 the demands must be reviewed and they are not sustainable,” he said.