Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, has revealed how the union, during its last negotiations, rejected Federal Government’s plan to increase school fees of all university students to N1m.
He said government’s plan was to open an education bank and give each student a loan of N1m annually at five per cent interest rate to sponsor themselves in school and then pay back when they graduate and start working.
Osodeke stated this while answering questions from participants at a one-day ‘state of the nation summit’ organised for ASUU members by the Bauchi zone of the union.
He said, “At the last negotiation, the first thing they told us was that we should negotiate for our allowances and salaries but we said no, let’s discuss funding first. When we know how much you’re going to pay, then we can negotiate salary. Reluctantly, they went on.
“Then, they raised another issue which was why we delayed for four years, that students must pay N1m as school fees every year; the government said 70 per cent will be paid to the university while the student keeps 30 per cent.
“We asked them where and how the students would source the money and they told us not to worry. They said they would open an education bank and the students would go there and take the N1m every year.
“And by the time you are graduating, you would have been owing N5m or N6m. If it takes you 20 years to get a job, that five per cent interest on that loan would be building.
“We said we will never allow that, and that was why we went on strike and we delayed in calling off the strike.
“If we had accepted that students pay N1m as school fees, they would have increased our pay easily and who would the public and the students blame? It is ASUU.”
Osodeke said that if they had accepted the offer, people would have accused them of fighting for their personal interests and not the collective good of Nigerians.