Otti Wants ASUU to Lead Initiative for Abia Varsity’s Financial Autonomy
Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been challenged to evolve means of making the Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU) financially independent.
Governor Alex Otti threw the challenge at the union members during a meeting with the executives of ASUU-ABSU, saying that the state-owned university was old enough to start fending for itself.
He stated that it was not sustainable for ABSU to rely solely on government subventions for survival. He added that the academic staff should be at the vanguard of the move to attain financial autonomy.
“It is important that we put on our thinking cap and remove our begging cap because this whole idea of begging is the problem that we have in Nigeria,” Otti said. “Even as a country, we keep begging, we keep borrowing, and we need to think of being financially independent.”
He told the ASUU-ABSU leadership, led by the Zonal Coordinator (ASUU National), Calabar Zone, Dr. Happiness Uduak, that “even from research alone, the university should be able to generate enough resources to attend to some of its needs.
“We need to begin to think of how to make our universities financially independent. Let us rechannel our ABSU-ASUU to begin to think of how they can contribute to making the university independent, and I will support you,” Otti said.
The governor assured the leadership of ASUU that his government would look into the institution’s problems, resolve them and make ABSU stand out among its peers.
He said the demands that the ASUU leaders tabled before him were not unreasonable, though a lot needed to be done, adding that the government would do everything within its capacity to meet the needs of the university.
He expressed surprise over the “18 months salary differential,” which the union said its members in ABSU were owed between 2009-2010, in addition to 11 months salary arrears owed the lecturers by the immediate past administration.
The governor promised to meet with the ABSU management to iron out several issues, including strengthening the institution’s corporate governance. He promised to set up a visitation panel at the university and look into enhancing ABSU’s subvention as requested by the union leadership.
Uduak had earlier expressed ASUU members’ gratitude to Otti for the infrastructural transformation witnessed in Abia, some of which impacted the ABSU community.
She commended Otti for the prompt release of the monthly subventions of the university, thereby paving the way for industrial harmony between the government and the union.
The ASUU zonal coordinator informed the governor of the 11 months outstanding salaries from 2022 owed members of ASUU-ABSU and appealed for renegotiation of the salaries and upward review of the university’s subvention.
She spoke about some anomalies in the running of ABSU, hence the need for the government to set up a visitation panel for the institution. She added that the deplorable Okigwe-Uturu road leading to the institution needs rehabilitation.
Corroborating the zonal leader, the Chairperson of ASUU-ABSU, Dr Chidi Mbah, stated that things are not going well in the university.
He called on the governor to visit ABSU personally for a first-hand appreciation of the enormity of the problems in the institution.