by Paul Osas
President Goodluck Jonathan in an attempt to meet one of the demands of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), will in two weeks flag-off infrastructure projects worth N100 billion in universities and tertiary institutions across the country.
“That is one of the reasons why ASUU is even on strike,” said Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, who is also the chairman of the needs assessment implementation committee of the universities established by the National Economic Council (NEC) to bridge the infrastructural gaps in tertiary institutions.
If previous strike actions by ASUU are used as a gauge, then this announcement will likely serve as bargaining chip and a prelude for the strike to be called off.
Suswam, while assuring that the committee would have completed its task, thus necessitating ASUU to call off its strike, which they embarked upon partly because of dearth of infrastructure and lack of earned allowances, said the projects that the President is expected to flag-off include lecture theatres, classrooms and hostels, many of which he noted were in deplorable conditions, necessitating the President to assign the committee to ensure that things were put in good shape immediately.
“I believe we will be able to give our universities a new lease of life. It will start with the sum of N1 billion and we set up a small committee which will report back to the bigger committee on Tuesday for us to be able to select universities across the six geopolitical zones where the president will decide to go and flag of projects worth about N1oo billion and that should be the end of this month or first week of September, because there are processes that needed to be carried out for us to achieve that,” Suswam said.
The governor explained that the NEEDS assessment, which his committee is handling has been virtually concluded, adding, “I think by next week, it will be definitely concluded, while the earned allowance aspect being handled by the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (OSGF) would be taken care of in the next one week. Given the seriousness of the issue, we will be able to come to some level of agreement with ASUU, which will probably lead to call off of the strike. I’m not saying they are calling off the strike. We have to agree on these two remaining issues,” Suswam said