The committee set up by the federal government to implement the needs assessment report in Nigerian universities yesterday reached an agreement with representatives of the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the vexed issue of decaying infrastructure in Nigerian universities following the adoption of a report by the committee's technical committee.
The committee, chaired by Benue State Governor, Dr Gabriel Suswam, which rose from a long meeting at the Benue Governor's Lodge Asokoro, Abuja, last night, announced to newsmen that the federal government had reached agreement with ASUU to deploy N100 billion for the provision of infrastructure on the campuses of 61 universities covered in the needs assessment report earlier carried out by a committee of the federal government.
Based on the agreement, therefore, the only matter in contention is the issue of the earned allowances which Suswam gave assurances that the matter, too, would be dealt with on Monday since the federal government had made substantial offers to the striking lecturers.
The technical committee, chaired by Dr Banfa, a nominee of ASUU, had proposed in its report that the N100billion be shared among all the 61 federal and state universities in the country for intervention in the areas of the rehabilitation and construction of lecture halls, renovation and construction of libraries and laboratories, and rehabilitation and construction of hostels.
Banfa said the 61 universities were categorized into four based on the size of student enrolment, noting that the categories depended on the university with 30,000 students and above, 20,000 students and above, 15,000 students and above, and 10,000 students and above respectively.
Each of the universities would then be given its share of the fund to apply in the projects already identified in the needs assessment report for immediate implementation.
In adopting the report, Suswam said everything would be done to avoid bureaucracy in the award of contracts for the identified projects so that the campuses would immediately witness a new lease of life with the coming on stream of the new projects.
The governor disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan had agreed to flag off the construction of infrastructural projects under the N100billion stimulus package in a university to be selected, to symbolize the commencement of construction work in all the universities. He said the new projects to be undertaken would be standardized such that all the Universities will enjoy similar facilities in terms of the new projects.
"I am confident that, very soon, the students will resume. As a leader in this country, I am worried about the strike. Mr President is absolutely worried and everybody is concerned that the students should not stay at home more than necessary," he stressed.
The implementation committee meeting was attended by the ministers of Education, Labour and Productivity, and other education funding agencies of the federal government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), NITDA, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) among others as well as the president of ASUU.