By G9ija

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Owerri Zone has decried proliferation of universities by federal and state governments.

It queried the rationale behind establishing new universities when existing ones were being starved of funds.

The Federal Government recently announced establishment of six private universities across the country, bringing the total universities in Nigeria to about 176, both public and private.

Addressing reporters yesterday at the ASUU Secretariat of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, ASUU Owerri Zonal Coordinator Uzo Onyebinama accused the Federal Government of politicising university education.

He alleged that the new universities recently announced by the government were for 2023 election campaigns.

Onyebinama, however, said the body was making efforts to ensure the National Universities Commission (NUC) reviewed its act to empower it to control the rate of establishing universities by governments.

He said: “We’ve been asking the Federal Government in our conferences to stop creating universities, when they can’t fund the existing ones, which can absorb as many students as the new ones can take, if funded with expanded facilities.

“But you know, as politicians, given that we’re approaching 2023, they want to have something for their campaigns. It’s not about opening universities, but funding and sustaining them. The ones on ground are mere shadows of themselves.”

“Truth is, the same new universities will tomorrow join other old ones to lament underfunding. Yet, another government will come up to establish theirs.

“Both federal and state governments are guilty of this. That’s why we’re demanding that proliferation of universities must stop. We call on Nigerians to come to the rescue. It’s an ongoing struggle.”

Onyebinama accused the Federal Government of deliberating delaying the signing and implementation of the 2020 renegotiated agreement, as well as deployment of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform.

He identified acceptance and signing of the renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, which embodied the conditions of service for academic staff in public universities as part of outstanding issues yet to be addressed in the 2020 Memorandum of Agreement.

Among ASUU branch chairpersons present at the meeting included Okey Aniebo of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Chinedu Ihejirika of Federal University of Science and Technology (FUTO) and Odinakachukwu Ejiogu of Imo State University (IMSU).

Others were Chike Ugwuene of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), as well as former chairpersons Chinyere Echendu of MOUAU and Christopher Echerobia of Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).