Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, OFR, has assured that his government would look into issues confronting the Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu, with a view to resolving them and making the school the envy of other tertiary institutions in the country.
Governor Otti spoke on Tuesday, when he met with the executives of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ABSU Chapter, led by the Zonal Coordinator (ASUU National), Calabar Zone, Dr. Happiness Uduak.
The union executives said they had come to thank the Governor for taking interest in their welfare by paying their salaries and other benefits, promptly, since he assumed office on May 29, 2023, but like Oliver Twist, ask for more.
Consequently, they seized the opportunity to enumerate several other challenges confronting the University and members of the academic staff, which, though they acknowledged preceeded the present administration, appealed to the Governor to use his good office and intervene.
The Governor while noting that a lot needed to be done to fix the institution, said the demands of the Union were not unreasonable and added that government would do everything within its capacity to assist the University.
He expressed surprise over “18 months salary differential” the union said its members in Abia were being owed, between 2009-2010, as well as 11 months salary arrears, owed the lecturers by the previous administration.
Governor Otti was of the view that Universities, especially when they are not new, should be run independent of government subvention, and advised members of the union to rather evolve ways to make the University financially independent.
He said; “It is important that we put on our thinking cap and remove our begging cap because this whole idea of begging is the problem that we have in Nigeria.
“Even as a country, we keep begging, we keep borrowing and we need to think of being financially independent.
“Even from research alone, if there is anything happening in the University, we should be able to generate enough resources to do a few things.
“We need to begin to think of how to make our Universities financially independent. Let us rechannel our ABSU ASUU to begin to think of how they can contribute to making the University independent, and I will support you.
“We need to think in that direction because it is more sustainable”.
The Governor, who said he would meet with the University Management to iron out a number of issues, talked about strengthening the corporate governance of the institution and promised to set up a visitation panel to the university as well as look into the union’s request for increased subvention.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Dr. Uduak, appreciated Governor Otti for the numerous developmental projects he had embarked upon in the state, since assuming office, some of which had been delivered, and all he had done, and still doing, to better the lots of the University community.
She specifically commended Governor Otti for the prompt release of their monthly subventions; a gesture she said, set the tone for an industrial harmony between the government and the Union.
She, however, disclosed that members of ASUU ABSU were owed 11 months outstanding salaries from 2022 and requested an upward review of subvention to the University as well as renegotiation of their salaries.
Uduak said there was need for the government to set up a Visitation Panel to the school to checkmate some anomalies, revisit the deplorable Okigwe-Uturu road leading to the institution as well as address the 18 months differentials to their members.
The ASUU, ABSU Branch Chairperson, Dr. Chidi Mbah, in his remarks, noted that things were not going as they should in the University, and called on the Governor to personally visit the school to see things for himself.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
Government House, Umuahia.