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SERAP Asks FG to Recover Missing N105.7Bn to Fund Universities

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the federal government to urgently recover the missing N105.7 billion of public funds from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to fund the country’s public tertiary institutions.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari dated July 2, 2022 and signed Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, its deputy director, noted that the money could be used to improve the welfare of members of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“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, and the N134 billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget to meet the demands by ASUU,” it stated, urging the President to “send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the proposed redirected budget, for its approval.”

“Meeting the demands by ASUU would confront the persistent and widening inequality in educational opportunity, and promote equal protection for poor Nigerian children,” the association said, adding 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.”

The ASUU 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 and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), among others.

SERAP lamented, “The poor treatment of Nigerian children in the country’s public tertiary institutions,” saying it is “inconsistent and 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.

“Inequalities in education have a rolling effect, leading to even more and continued inequalities in the future.”

“Apart from being a right in itself, the right to education is also an enabling right. Education creates the ‘voice’ through which rights can be claimed and protected, and without education, people lack the capacity to achieve valuable functioning as part of living.

“If people have access to the 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,” it stated.

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