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ASUU threatens strike over low education budget

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has expressed grave concerns about the meager budget allocated to the education sector, raising the possibility of strikes across universities in 2024.

Prof. Emmanuel Oshodeke, in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday, pointed out the inadequacy of the 2024 education budget and warned that if not addressed, it could lead to mobilization for industrial actions.

During the interview, Oshodeke highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s campaign promise earlier this year to increase the education sector’s budget to at least 15 percent.

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He also noted the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation’s recommendation of a 26 percent benchmark allocation for the education sector.

Expressing dissatisfaction, Oshodeke remarked, “Nigeria was the country with the least remuneration for professors, globally.”

He emphasized the disappointment felt by ASUU with the 2024 education budget of N2.18 trillion, constituting only 7.9 percent of the total budget.

This figure, he noted, was the same as during the Buhari administration, signaling limited progress for the sector.

ASUU called on the government to fulfill promises made during the election, urging an increase in the education budget to 15 percent or more.

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Oshodeke warned, “If no improvement on this and our other demands, by next year, we will mobilise our people, and we can’t stay like this.”

National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, also expressed disappointment with the sector’s budget allocation, describing it as demoralizing and inadequate to address the multifaceted problems in the sector.

He emphasized the need to increase salaries for lecturers, clear backlog payments of Earned Allowance, and deal with the brain drain in the university system.

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“The only way to stop the japa syndrome and save our sector from brain drain is to improve funding for the education sector, improve the wage structure to meet at least the African average, and restore governance in the sector to global standards,”

“By doing these, our academics who are leaving will stay back as they will be better motivated,” said Ezeibe.

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