The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Niger Delta University, NDU, chapter has accused Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State of establishing a private university named African International University, AIU.
The academic body regretted that the government was thinking of establishing a private university with state resources despite several months of unpaid salaries of lecturers, and underfunding of NDU.
ASUU alleged that Dickson plans to strangulate the state-owned university because of the new private university.
The NDU chapter of ASUU expressed these concerns on Friday during a press conference at the NDU’s Faculty of Law Campus in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
The Chairman, ASUU, NDU chapter, Stanley Ogoun, who addressed newsmen, said the passage of the bill to establish AIU, a public-private partnership arrangement, to be sited at Toru Orua, Dickson’s hometown, was an attempt to destroy the state-owned university.
Ogoun wondered why a government that was unable to adequately fund the NDU could be tinkering with the idea of establishing a new university under a partnership arrangement via counterpart funding with a promise to make it better than NDU.
He said, “The first concern is the issue of timing. Is this an auspicious time for a policy like this, considering the state government’s failure to pay salaries spanning into several months?
“Who truly owns this African International University, who are the private promoters?
Why is the Governor of Bayelsa State, the Visitor to a supposed private-sector driven university?
Why are the supposed ‘investors’ faceless?
“What is the percentage of equity holding by the Bayelsa State Government and that of the supposed ‘investors’ in the private public arrangement?
“We know that all universities are established by a single law, and therefore, if the African International University is private sector driven which implies a private sector majority shareholding, why should it be the responsibility of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to pass the law setting up the university?
“Why must a private sector led company be established by a Bayelsa State Government law?”
The ASUU Chairman sought to know why the supposed faceless “investors” involved in the PPP arrangement could not obtain a licence from the National University Commission.
Ogoun also wondered why the state Assembly passed the bill with within 24 hours, without a public hearing as required of bills of such nature.
He said that a glance at the bill indicated clearly that it is simply prototype of the NDU law 2000 as amended in 2004, noting that the NDU Law 2000 was plagiarised.
He, therefore, called on all Bayelsa people, the Ijaw nation and the general public to be vigilant and stand up against any fraudulent intent that would enslave the masses.
But the government in a reaction denied that Dickson owns the private university and kept sealed lips on the owners and promoters.
The government said the allegation that Dickson was planning to establish his private university under the pretence of a PPP arrangement was untrue.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Jonathan Obuebite, said the new university was an idea conceived by private investors who wanted the state partnership.
Obuebite said, “We announced the intention of the State Government to engage the private sector to float a new university to be named the African International University.
“Shortly after the announcement, as expected, the social media was awash with different tales of the idea behind the University and the real intention.
“Some accused us of going to open a new University when we have said we cannot continue to fund the Niger Delta University.
“This wrong notion and interpretation of our move is sad but we thank them for displaying their folly and mischief and commend them also for giving their paymaster a reason to believe they are working.”