The National Association of Nigerian Students has called on the Edo State Government to ensure the payment of about 16 months’ salary arrears to lecturers of the Ambrose Ali University.
The students also urged the state government to improve on budgetary allocations to the university and other tertiary institutions in the state, saying hungry and frustrated staff members could not reach the students effectively.
The Chairman, NANS Joint Campus Committee, Edo State Axis, Moses Emmanuel, in a statement on Sunday, stated that learning was at its “worst in AAU Ekpoma because lecturers and non-academic staff are being owed over 16 months’ salary and other deductions running into billions of naira.”
He also lamented that the cooperative society, which used to be the financial lifeline for many of the staff members when needs arose, had been crippled.
The statement read in part, “It has become imperative and important to publicly call the attention of the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, to the fast dwindling state of all the state-owned tertiary institutions in Edo, mostly AAU Ekpoma, which is one of the foremost and reputable state-owned citadels of learning in Nigeria.
“Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma has in the past two years become a toxic arena where love, peace, and tranquillity among staff and students have been bastardised, courtesy of the bad policies and decisions of the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration.
“The Governor Godwin Obaseki administration has not started and completed a single project that NANS is aware of in the Ambrose Alli University; the College of Education, Igueben; Edo State Polytechnic, Usen; or even the School of Health, Benin City. He met AAU Ekpoma’s monthly subvention at N250m and reduced it to N41m; and Edo Poly Usen, N55m to N10m for no publicly justified reason.
“The College of Medicine, AAU, Ekpoma, is on the verge of total collapse due to lack of infrastructural and facility development. In fact, medical students are now being asked to pay N100,000 each to fund a hostel project needed for accreditation for which they will still be required to pay to occupy.
“Till date, the governor has yet to release the AAU Ekpoma visitation panel report that was set up and funded at the expense of taxpayers in Edo. The essence of that panel was to ascertain the financial strength and sustainability of the university, and we wonder why the governor has decided to keep the report to himself months after submission.
“Learning is at its worst in AAU Ekpoma, because lecturers and non-academic staff members are being owed over 16 months’ salaries and other deductions running into billions of naira.
“Yet the governor expects
hungry and angry lecturers to teach frustrated and depressed students, who have suddenly become victims of circumstances resulting from bad governmental policies and failures.
“Tertiary education is at its worst currently in Edo since the inception of democracy.”
The statement added, “Governor Obaseki, in his first term, closed down the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, under the guise that he wants to speedily upgrade it to a world-class college.
“Today, the pace of work being done in that place is not only slow, the projects being executed do not in any way justify the closing down of the school for over four years and still counting, and it will be a shock if Obaseki is able to call the students of that campus, who are still frustrated at home, back to campus to resume their academic work before 2024 when he is expected to finish his second term.
“The staff members are still being owed salaries for the period for which they worked before the school was closed down. The College of Education Ekiadolor workers have become street beggars because the governor has refused to pay them their over 20 months’ salaries even after tactically terminating their appointments.
“Why NANS will reserve her comment for now as regard the Edobest programme and its implementation level across the state, we are calling on the governor of Edo State to revert the monthly subventions to all the state-owned tertiary institutions in the state back to how he met them if he cannot afford to increase them or cannot publicly tell the public why he is starving the various institutions financially to the point of total collapse.”