*Says ASUU’s demands hard for governoment to implement
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- IMMEDIATE Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education,Arch. Sonny Echono,who was recently appointed as the new Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund,by President Muhammadu Buhari,assumed office Monday,taking over from his predecessor,Prof. Suleiman Bogoro.
Echono speaking at the handover ceremony held at the Fund’s headquarters,Abuja,said the demands by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which led to the ongoing strike by the union,was difficult for the federal government to implement even as he called on the latter to suspend their action and instead continue talk with the government on way out.
This came as he promised to concentrate on curriculum delivery in the nation’s tertiary institutions, adding that he would concentrate on how to make the nation’s graduates more relevant.
Admitting that education in the country was not receiving funding as it should have, Echono explained that the unfavorable state of the nation’s economy was the reason, appealing to the varsities teachers to see reason with government.
“Yes we agree that the conditions they work are challenging we will address it but the government is currently constrained,” while appealing to the members of ASUU to create opportunities for the government to address the issues in phases,”he said.
While also noting that education sector needed massive investment to prepare the huge population of the country for global competitiveness, Echono said he would make wide consultation with stakeholders including ASUU and other staff unions in tertiary institutions in pursuing the realisation of the mandate of the Fund, especially for feedback and evaluation of what TETFund has been doing as well as how best the judiciously utilise the funds available to it.
Açcording to him,the effort would assist in creating industrial harmony.
The new TETFund boss regretted that the nation’s limited resources were being used to train students that graduate for some years seeking government’s employment.
Echono promised that staff welfare would be given needed attention.
He said,“We shall be having consultations with our critical stakeholders: Vice-Chancellors of Universities, Rectors of Polytechnics, Provost of Colleges of Education as well as staff Unions, ASUU, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), COASU (College of Education Academic Staff Union), and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) among others, for them to tell us which areas they want improvement”.
On his part,Prof. Suleiman Bogoro,while expressing gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing return to complete his tenure of five years said his administration did its best to meet the expectations of the beneficiary institutions.
Açcording to him,“We tried to address a major challenge in the Nigerian university system which was weak research culture.”
He boasted that his administration “created a new standard.”