The Chairman of the negotiating team with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin, has said he has no plan to establish a private university now as being alleged.
Babalakin said this against the backdrop of the allegation by ASUU that he was frustrating negotiations with the lecturers because of his upcoming private university.
But speaking with newsmen, Babalakin said based on what he knows, he cannot afford to start a private university.
He said: “I have an idea of what it takes to fund a university, but I can’t afford it.
“I have no plans to start a private university as at now.”
Speaking on behalf of the Federal Government negotiating team, Babalakin said one of the reasons for the ongoing strike in the universities is the refusal of the lecturers to agree to being held accountable for funds released for the development of the education sector.
He said the leadership of the union was only interested in the government releasing funds to the universities without deliverables attached, adding that the negotiating team was not against the funding of the education sector.
He said: “There should be no compromise about funding education.
“The lecturers believe N2 trillion must be spent, but where does it take come from?
“And for every amount of money invested in education, there must be a way of measuring the effect.
“In 1974/75, the University College Hospital in Ibadan was the fifth rated in the Commonwealth.
“So if we decide to put money into UCH, we must sit down with the leadership for Key Performance Indicators.
“But ASUU says no.
“That it is the neoliberal tendencies of Babalakin.
“The kind of funding we are talking about is not a bonanza.
“But what ASUU wants is a bonanza.”
Babalakin denied the allegation by the lecturers that the negotiating team had recommended a tuition of between N350,000 and N500,000 for university students.
He said the terms of reference of the negotiating team does not include pronouncement on fees.
He said: “The Committee has not recommended school fees.
“We don’t have a mandate to impose school fees.
“As of date, we have not mentioned the issue of school fees.
“It is just a figment of the imagination of those who said it.
“Everything we agreed on was jointly signed.
“The reform of the education sector must start now.
“Nigeria must have a sound education system.
“Nigeria must have a well funded education system.”
On the issue of indigent students, Babalakin said the committee recommended the establishment of a students loan scheme and Education Bank.
He said students could obtain loans from any of the two and pay back after graduation with low interest rate.
He said: “No Nigerian should be deprived of sound education because of his circumstances.
“All students must stay on campus and this must be affordable.
“The travails of students must stop.”