Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently recover missing N105.7bn of public funds from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to fund the country’s public tertiary institutions, improve the welfare of staff members, and ensure that the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) return to class without further delay.”
SERAP said, “Pending the recovery of the missing public funds; we urge you to redirect some of the presidency’s budget of N3.6 billion on feeding and travels; the N134 billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget to meet the demands by ASUU.”
Further, SERAP urged him to send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill; which reflects the proposed redirected budget, for its approval.
In the letter dated 2 July, 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare; the organisation said: “Meeting the demands by ASUU would confront the persistent and widening inequality in educational opportunity, and promote equal protection for poor Nigerian children.”
Equally important, SERAP noted that; “The apparent failure by your government to agree with the reasonable demands by ASUU, implement the good faith agreement with the union and to satisfactorily resolve the issues has kept poor Nigerian children at home while the children of the country’s politicians attend private schools.”
As a matter of fact, the ASUU had accused the government of poor commitment to the payment of academic earned allowance (EAA); poor funding, the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System; as well as refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), among others.
SERAP said, “Meeting ASUU demands would also ensure protection against the harms of discrimination and educational deprivation.”
Meanwhile, the letter, read in part: “The poor treatment of Nigerian children in the country’s public tertiary institutions is inconsistent; incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.”
“Widening inequalities in the area of education bear all the more dramatic consequences given the importance of education; as an empowering right, in giving the possibility to all to explore and realise their potential.
“If people have access to education they can develop the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights. Education gives people the ability to access information; detailing the range of rights that they hold, and government’s obligations.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.
”If we have not heard from you by then; SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”