The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it is not responsible for the current decay in public universities in the country.
Lazarus Maigoro, chairman of the union at the University of Jos, stated this during a peaceful protest it organised on Tuesday in Jos.
The chairman said the ongoing struggle by the union is to salvage the university system from total collapse.
“The systematic neglect, chronic underfunding and lack of attention given to public universities and, by extension, the educational system has led to its inability to compete globally,” he said.
He added, “So, Nigerians should not see ASUU as the enemy of education but the body whose quest is to make university education the envy of all.”
He recounted that the union had, over the years, engaged the government on the need to address its challenges.
Mr Maigoro added that the numerous struggles by ASUU led to the creation of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), the NEEDS assessment funds, and other funding streams to revive public universities.
The chairman explained that its current struggle centred around university autonomy, funding and welfare of university workers, adding that all its agreements with the government since 2009 revolved around them.
He noted that ASUU would not be the reason for the collapse of public universities and called on Nigerians to support the union in its struggle for a better educational system.
On the peaceful protest, Mr Maigoro said the exercise was to call on the government to pay the eight months withheld salaries of its members and to honour agreements it reached with the union.
“ASUU is saying ‘no’ to the casualisation of academics in the public universities through the payment of pro-rata salary as well as withholding of its eight months withheld salaries.
“We call on Nigerians to impress on the government the need to adhere to and honour agreements it freely and willingly signed and entered with the union, including the conclusion of the renegotiation of 2022.
“It is on the basis of these that our national body directed all chapters to hold this peaceful protest and lecture-free day to register our concern on the attempts by few Nigerians to destroy public universities,” he said.