The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has loathed the way and manner the Delta state government under the administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is running the affairs of the Delta state University (DELSU), Abraka and its campuses.
The state government is said to among other frustrating measures be withholding promotion arrears of staff and freezing of the recruitment rights of the institution despite the lack-lustre nature of the University, due to inadequate funding by the state government.
Chairman of ASUU, Delta State University branch, Abraka, Dr. Emmanuel Mordi, while issuing a one month ultimatum, said that the state government has also deliberately refused to provide needed infrastructure in the institution, warning that government has given enough reasons to warrant industrial unrest on campus.
“We want to warn that we have outstanding issues with the state government which are yet to be resolved and we are expecting that latest one month, government would have resolved the issues, failure which we are at liberty to take any step we consider appropriate.
“The issues have been in the news for a very long time. Our members who were promoted in 2005 are still expecting their promotion arrears and this is unacceptable. Government is aware of that and we were with the Governor on November 28, 2011 and he promised that the issue will be fast-tracked and up till now nothing has happened.
“We also have other issues. There are so many abandoned projects. The University is not well funded and ….so many of our colleagues have died, others have retired and they are not being replaced. The Vice Chancellor has applied to the Governor for permission to employ lecturers…since August 2011. Up till now, approval has not been given and we consider it unacceptable. These are the major challenges.
“And this University should be well funded. The University is in an oil state but if you look at what we have on ground, it is just a glorified Secondary school. And we think that this University should be better. There are so many abandoned projects all over the school. The University is not funded and we see that these are enough reasons to warrant industrial unrest on campus.
Meanwhile, in a rather swift reaction to the issues raised by ASUU, Dr Hope Eghagha, Commissioner for Higher Education in Delta state said their claims were erroneous, since the Delta state government has met with its obligations to the University.
“First, let me correct an erroneous impression that the Delta state government is consciously not funding the University. In the last 10 years, the state government has regularly funded the University with capital grants. The medical school was funded and we produced our first graduates last year…if the government did not fund it very well, it will not produce medical students.
Last year, I remember clearly that N100 million was released for that purpose. I also remember that N150 million was released for accreditation in 2009. And funds are routinely released to the University. As we speak, the state government meets a monthly obligation with that University to the tune of N368 million monthly.
“It is true that some arrears have not been paid but the problem is the bureaucracy, not because the government did not want to pay and that has been fully addressed, the papers are virtually ready. Let me correct this point, it is not true that from 2005, some were paid for 2007, 2008 but one of the files was missing, some were paid for 2009. So, it is not correct to say from 2005 to 2011 that arrears were not paid. We paid some promotion arrears in 2010 but there are some outstanding.
If you look across the country, all Universities complain that they are not properly funded the Delta state government is meeting its obligation to the institution. We have seven tertiary institutions in the state and the University has three campuses. We have direct intervention on the campuses in terms of infrastructure. Definitely meeting these obligations is no problem.
“We have not frozen the recruitment exercise, as I said earlier on, this state has seven tertiary institutions, we have a government public service that pays about 65, 000 persons and the wage bill is about N7.5 billion monthly. In 2009, the monthly wage bill of this state was N3.5 billion, now it has doubled. The state government said if any parastatal or government agency wants to employ, they should get clearance so as to control the wage bill.