The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria envisaged a situation of autonomy for Local Government Councils when they were created, yet State Governments have muscled them, turning LGC Funds into the Pocket money of the Executives of the State.
So we wonder why the same Government that would not allow Local government autonomy and would rather run the everyday activities, especially financial activities from the office of the State Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, would be canvassing for any format of Autonomy for the Niger Delta University, just so that it can abducte its financial responsibilities to that citadel of higher learning that has produced most of Bayelsa’so future great minds.
sayelba.com reported on the 9th of June that “the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon, Henry Seriake Dickson has told the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) not to depend on the State government for its funding but device innovative revenue generation.
Speaking uring a meeting with the Institution’so Governing Council and principal officers at Government House, Yenagoa, Dickson stated that his administration can no longer sustain the existing funding system owing to the present poor financial standing of the state..
The Kontriman Governor described a situation where the state government’s monthly subvention of about 480 million naira is spent on only the university’s recurrent expenditure as unsustainable. Going down memory lane, the Governor said, he had expressed concern over the bogus wage bill of the university and the need for the University leadership to be prudent in the use of the funds, which his administration religiously provided until January this year, with a view to enabling the institution gain some degree of financial autonomy.
Commenting on the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the state chapter of the Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, Governor Dickson appealed to the striking lecturers to call off their action and join hands with the government in proffering solutions to the issue of unpaid salaries caused by the sharp drop in state revenues. While empathizing with the staff and students of the institution over the development, he, however, reaffirmed his commitment to measures that would help in cutting down the wage bill of the university, in such a way that would not affect its status as a centre of excellence and research.
To this end, the governor called on the Management of the University to work closely with the government to arrive at a much more feasible funding arrangement that would cater for the salaries of all academic staff and appropriate number of non-teaching staff. Describing the current non-academic staff strength of 2,502 as unacceptable, Governor Dickson frowned at the practice, where the university asserts its autonomy only in the area of employment, but passes all salary obligations to the state government.”
The Bayelsa State Government should look for creative means to continue to not only meet its financial obligations to the NEW but to also invest in infrastructure and Research there. The already pauperised Bayelsa State Civil Servants who are yet to receive over four months salaries cannot afford to bear any single Kobo of additional financial burden on the education of their children and other dependants in that institution.
The Governor Henry Seriake Dickson administration must once again be reminded that the State of Emergency it declared in the Educational sector of the State has remained on paper and far from reality over 4 years since it was declared on the 12th of February 2012.
Rather than saying it can no longer fund the University, where all it has done is pay workers salaries, the State Government should tap into the brains of the Eggheads of that institution to develop more viable revenue sources for the state to not only need the needs of NDU but the entire state. That us the way to go and not the current anachronistic method of shying away from its responsibilities to Bayelsans in need of University education.