THE Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has declared again that public universities in Nigeria are grossly underfunded by the government.

The National President of SSANU, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, dropped this hint at a recent stakeholders’ virtual forum organised by the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN).

EWAN is a body of newsmen across print, broadcast and online media organisations in Nigeria who cover the nation’s education sector.

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Speaking on a topic, ‘Withheld Salaries Vs Labour Crises: The Way Forward,’ the SSANU boss said the poor funding facing public universities in the country is the major cause of the incessant labour crisis being experienced in the system.

He said governments at both the federal and state levels will need to give a deserved priority to education by allocating a substantial part of their annual budgets to the sector.

According to him, there are lots of challenges ranging from poor infrastructure, laboratories, classrooms, staff quarters, remuneration, working conditions, to lack of autonomy public universities are confronted with in the country.

While noting that the state universities are worse in this regard, Mohammed opined that if the government should invest adequately in the sector, Nigeria would easily overcome its myraid of social challenges such as insecurity, Japa Syndrome, youth restfulness, among others.

Speaking about the withheld four-month salaries of the members, upon which they went on a one-week warning strike alongside the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) last week, he said the Federal Government should without further delay pay the money.

He said though they had called off the strike and directed all members to go back to work, they may down tools again and even make it indefinite if the Federal Government continues to delay the payment.

He pointed out that the non- payment of the withheld salaries had really taken a huge toll on them and their families to the extent that SSANU alone had lost no fewer than 100 members in the last one and a half years to avoidable death due to lack of money to access good healthcare.

In his brief remarks, the chairman of EWAN, Mr Mojeed Alabi, said the essence of the stakeholders’ forum is to provide workable solutions that could bring permanent peace to the nation’s tertiary education sector.

According to him, “education is a key to development in any society and Nigeria cannot continue to toy with the sector if it truly wants genuine prosperity.”

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