ASUU sues FG over varsities

No Comments » January 5th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Higher Education in Nigeria



 

 

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ASUU sues FG over varsities’ governing councils

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By Tony Amokeodo,Segun Olugbile and Victor Sam

 

Published: Tuesday, 6 Jan 2009

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has dragged the Federal Government before the Federal High Court in Lagos, challenging the propriety of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s refusal to reconstitute the governing councils of the federal universities.

The Federal Government was said to have dissolved the governing councils on October 23, 2007.

ASUU had through its lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, filed a suit No FHC/L/CS/5622/08 against the Federal Government on December 24, 2008.

A copy of the application was made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Monday.

ASUU had urged the court to hold that the refusal of the President to reconstitute the councils was illegal, saying that the action violated the enabling law setting up each of the federal universities.

The union had also in an affidavit in support deposed to by its administrative secretary, Mr. Michael Odunmorayo, claimed that the action of the President had adversely affected staff discipline and promotion.

It further alleged that the development had affected students‘ welfare, approval of development projects and administrative policies, which were exclusively vested in the governing councils.

ASUU, therefore, urged the court to issue an order, compelling the President to constitute the councils of the federal universities without further delay.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.

The Federal Government had dissolved boards of federal parastatals, companies and institutions including the governing councils of the 27 federal universities through a circular from the office of the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe in November 2007.

The circular with reference number SGFSGF 19/S.81/V111, and signed by an acting Director in the SGF office, Dr. Jamola Shuara, stated that the action was taken in public interest.

Before this development, lecturers led by the Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), had led opposition against the action, arguing that it was illegal.

According to them, it violates the Acts of the affected universities.

In a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), Babalola stated that the term of pro-chancellors and their council members was stipulated by statute, the University Act of each federal university and as such, should not be terminated by a presidential fiat.

In his response, the minister in a letter referenced HAGF/SGF/2007/Vol 11 to the President agreed with Babalola‘s position.

He urged the President to issue a clarification letter to the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission to avoid erroneous interpretation of the announced dissolution.

In spite of this, the nation‘s 27 federal universities have been without governing councils 13 months after the dissolution.

Though the Presidency said that it would reconstitute the boards in June last year, nothing of such had happened and universities across the country continue to bear the brunt.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has criticised the falling standard of education in the country’s universities and said that an urgent shake-up was needed to arrest the drift.

It said that operators in the system who were not ready to align with government in effecting the needed changes would be shown the way out.

The newly-appointed Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, conveyed government’s position in Abuja on Monday at a meeting with vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities.

According to him, the Federal Government is in a hurry to reposition the education sector, adding that the quality of graduates from the universities was lamentable.

The Committee of Vice-Chancellors led by its Chairman and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof Emmanuel Nwanze, had visited Egwu in his office on a courtesy call.

The minister said that public perception of education was abysmally low, adding that there was nothing left to be desired in the sector.

He said, “The assignment before me is really big and the challenges are huge. I quite recognise the difficulties.

“Public perception of the quality of our university products has left much to be desired. That is why it has been stated that no African university is listed among the first 100 universities.

“Our universities have become something else. All manners of cultism, kidnapping, and the likes are found there. We cannot succeed until we stem these vices.

“I want to inform you that government is in a hurry to reposition this sector. So, there will be fallouts.

“Government will be severe. Those who do not want to conform will be shown the way out. We are determined to move and any dysfunctional part would be amended or discarded.”

 

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