Lagos – Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, former President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has blamed the current protests by students in universities across the country on inadequate funding.
Awuzie, in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, said that the issue of inadequate funding of universities by proprietors would continue to generate instability if not tackled.
He said it was worrisome that funds allocated to federal and state universities in recent times had continued to slide, rather than improve.
“I want to assure you that the change we all are expecting currently can speedily be achieved through massive funding of education, especially at the basic and the tertiary levels.
“Here, we are building more universities when the existing ones are barely struggling to survive.
“Money spent in building these new ones could have been invested into the existing ones to get them well equipped with world class technology for teaching, learning and research.
“Today, students are agitating over one basic amenity or the other and the universities are being shut down in order to avoid incurring losses, which does not tell well about our system,’’ he said.
Awuzie, who is also a former Vice-Chancellor, Imo State University, said that whenever ASUU called for increased funds for universities and other tertiary institutions, it was doing so out of patriotism.
According to him, these tertiary institutions, which are saddled with the mandate of teaching, learning and research basically, should be able to proffer solutions to the many societal challenges.
“These universities and tertiary institutions, if well-funded, will generate more money from people in the Diaspora coming into the country to study.
“We would equally be attracting foreign scholars who would equally contribute their wealth of experience, thereby creating a platform for healthy rivalry among their colleagues.
“We appreciate the fact that government is faced with a lot of challenges presently.
“Having said that however, we should also not forget the fact that as we are trying to diversify the economy from oil to other viable sectors, we must not allow our actions to push education further down the line,’’ the don said. (NAN)