The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has issued a warning to the Federal Government regarding the proposed budget slash in the Education and Health sectors.
It has been brought to public notice that the FG plans to deduct 50.76billion from the initial 111.78billion which was budgeted for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and 26.51billion from the 44.49billion that was allocated for the health sector.
This action would be a regressive move from the government and further detriment to the sectors involved, as highlighted by the Academic union. The warning to the Federal Government was issued through the ASUU Chairman at the University of Ibadan, Professor Ayo Akinwole.
Slashing the budget of two key sectors in a country that is yet to achieve standard of performance in these sectors is an indication that the government is not conscious of the detrimental state of affairs or is simply unwilling to do anything about it.
According to ASUU, slashing the healthcare sector budget is an indication that the Federal Government has not learnt any good lesson from the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
Professor Ayo Akinwole added that, to him, a serious and progressive government will not allocate funds for any rehabilitation of government buildings or purchase of buses, at the expense of critical sectors like Health and Education.
The FG was advised to take caution and not defraud the nation by muddling the budgeted funds of social intervention funds, with donations meant as palliatives for the vulnerable members of society, who have been exposed to the adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown.
ASUU also expressed their displeasure at the Government’s decision to stop salaries of lecturers (due to their refusal to break the laws for the quest of the government), thereby rendering over 30,000 lecturers and over 50,000 dependents vulnerable.
According to Akinwole, while the stoppage of salaries is a sign of lawlessness and tyranny, members of the union will not be cowed in their resolve to fight for the revitalization of public-funded education and the sanctity of the laws of the land.
He further advised the Government at state and federal levels to include journalists in the distribution of relief as over fifty percent of journalists are not being paid salaries while many have not been paid in over a year.
In his statement, Prof. Akinwole said,
“I have not seen this kind of government. A top government official claimed he never knew our Health institution is this precarious and the government that has not allocated sufficient funds to that sector is further reducing it!”
“They are also muddling up palliative being distributed. We sense that lack of transparency is ending in fraud and profiteering from the deprivation of the downtrodden. Most Nigerians are on the fringe and any mismanagement of palliative distribution will be counterproductive to the fight against the pandemic.”
ASUU’s statement and reservations, backed up by the evident events, have delivered a distinct warning to President Muhammadu Buhari, and his administration, against slashing the Health and Education sector budgets in the proposed revision of the 2020 budget.