By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Joseph Erunke
THE Federal Government has approved the constitution of Visitation Panels to oversight the activities of all Federal Universities in the country.
This was disclosed Monday by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Prof. Abubakar Abdulraheed, at the 2nd Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, with the theme “Respecting the Sancity of Collective Bargaining in Democracy”, in Abuja.
The NUC boss said the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu had secured the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to dispatch visitation panels to all public universities in the country, adding that the constitution of the visitation panels was apt as it was in line with the laws that stipulate visitation of public universities once in every five years.
He said that the respective panels that would soon be inaugurated were expected to tour the universities and bring back a ten year report, in two separate batches of five years each.
According to him, “The report will cover a period between 2011-2015 and from 2016 to 2020.”
The NUC boss, who lamented that the incessant strikes by various unions in the tertiary education was affecting the progress of the university system, called for the unification of all the unions within the university system under one single body.
“The polarisation of the university system, where each of the union comes up with their individual demands to the Federal Government is constituting bottlenecks for government to accede to their demands.
“This is the Nigerian university education cannot match up to their peers abroad academically, ‘he said.
Abdulraheed also added that talks were ongoing to convince the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to invite all the various unions to a round table, to see reasons why they should come under one umbrella.
He said the four unions under the university system include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
He said that there was need for the unions to enter into negotiations with the government with one accord, rather than a segmented approach.
According to him, it is regrettable that most times government and individual unions lock horns negotiating for better welfare packages for the staff at the detriment of the students.
“No university in the world can operate effectively in isolation, it is frustrating that the University system in Nigeria has been polarized by various unions, you have NAAT, ASUU, SSANU all negotiating for different things.
“Most times, while one group is negotiating with government, others are warning up for strike unless their demands are met, ‘he said.
Abdulrasheed also said that the Federal Government has reconstituted an eight man Committee to harmonise and finalise existing agreements between government and the unions.
He said the need arose following the resignation of Wale Babalakin as Chairman of the universities renegotiation committee.
He also noted that letters of appointment will be handed to the appointees by Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
Also speaking, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said that the theme of the delegate conference was apt.
Wabba called on governments to keep to negotiations and collective bargaining entered into with various unions as a way of ensuring industrial harmony in the country.
He said, “It is not enough to bargain without upholding whatever has been negotiated and agreed upon. Government must honour agreements.”