Buhari seeks ASUU partnership on varsity funding

On Saturday, President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) urged university unions, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities, to collaborate with the Federal Government to develop a funding blueprint for the university system. 

According to Buhari, such a funding strategy "should take into account local peculiarities and modern realities based on global best practices." 

The President stated that the constant industrial actions by ASUU and other unions in the university system revolve around the issue of adequate funding, emphasizing that university funding in various parts of the world is not solely the responsibility of the government. 

ASUU went on strike for eight months last year over university funding and other welfare issues, resulting in the current problem of unpaid eight-month salaries for academic staff. 

The President, represented by Minister of State for Education Goodluck Opiah, charged Nigerian universities to "reassess themselves in light of national and global expectations" during the 7th convocation ceremony of Federal University, Oye Ekiti. 

Three distinguished Nigerians were awarded honorary doctorates at the event, including legal luminary Wole Olanipekun, former Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria Bisi Onasanya, and sports legend Segun Odegbami. Olanipekun was also appointed as a visiting professor of constitutional law. 

"My campaign to become president in 2015 was built on the promise to improve security, strengthen the economy, and combat corruption," Buhari said, adding that his government had set Nigeria on irreversible paths of greatness through the implementation of people-centric policies. 

"It is with immense gratitude to Almighty Allah that I make a bold to say that we have delivered on the three promises. 

"When I took office, the country was practically under siege from terrorism and other forms of insecurity. 

"With every sense of responsibility, I state boldly that the war against terrorism has been fought and won as all the territories lost to these groups have been reclaimed. 

"And terrorism in Nigeria is on its last legs today." 

"Any university that does not make worthwhile contributions to the positive transformations of its country and the global community has failed to live up to the reason for its existence," he charged Nigerian ivory towers. 

"I request that all hands be on deck to save our dear country from the plethora of socioeconomic and political challenges that it faces. 

"I challenge FUOYE to take the lead in proposing workable solutions to these challenges. 

"The university system has remained one of the largest beneficiaries of the sector's budgetary allocations. 

"Notably, my administration has regularly financed human capital and infrastructural development across Nigerian universities through increased funding of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund." 

The President also challenged ASUU and other sister unions to devote half of their energies to confronting the government on funding issues to checking the excesses of their members, including gross indiscipline and corruption, which he said contributed to Nigerian universities' inability to be high fliers. 

In his remarks, FUOYE VC, Prof. Abayomi Fasina, said that the institution had carved a niche for itself on an international grid of academic excellence in the shortest time of its existence, and he admonished the graduates to positively project the institution's image. 

FUOYE officially graduated 3,898 students, including 3,811 first-year students with 91 first-class degrees, 1423 second-class upper degrees, 1845 second-class lower degrees, and 452 third-class degrees, as well as 103 higher-level degrees with 12 doctorates, 71 master's degrees, and four post-graduate diplomas.

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