The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has written a protest letter to the federal government, demanding that the government rescind the plan to deduct 40 per cent of the Internally Generated Revenues of federal universities.
The Secretary-General Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, who disclosed this to our correspondent in a phone interview at the weekend, said the government could not be demanding 40 per cent of varsities IGR when it had refused to grant them autonomy.
The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government in a letter dated October 17, 2023, titled ‘Implementation of 40% automatic deduction from internally generated revenue of partially funded federal government institutions,’ said it would begin the deduction with effect from November 2023.
The letter signed by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, Director of Revenue and Investment, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Felix Ore-ofe Ogundairo, said the auto-deduction policy of gross IGR was in line with the Finance Circular with reference number FMFBNP/OTHERS/IGR/CRF/12/2021 dated December 20, 2021.
Ochefu, speaking with our correspondent, said should the Federal Government spurn the plea by the VCs and goes ahead with the policy, parents would bear the consequences. Ochefu explained that the Finance Act 2020 specified that 40 percent could only be sent to the FG if there was a surplus, saying in the case of universities, there was no surplus but a lack of funding because universities only get user charges from students and not profits or revenues.
He said, “If you look at the Act, it didn’t say 40% IGR, but surplus. So, who determines what is surplus? The Finance Act of 2020 is explanatory and it is the institution that is supposed to decide and send you the surplus if there is any. But FG says it now wants to deduct it from the source. We have protested, and written to the Ministry of Education. If they insist, it means they want to ground the universities to a halt. Or we will be forced to add the 40 percent to what we are charging the end users and these end users are complaining already. We told the Ministry of Education to write the Ministry of Finance to halt the development. The letter was written on Thursday.”
He added, “Ultimately, any decision taken, it is the parents that will bear it. Schools are not commercial activities; they are social entities. Parents will bear it if FG insists on a 40 per cent deduction. For the government to sit down somewhere and equate universities, colleges, and polytechnics as revenue centres, that isn’t possible. They are not funding universities well enough. If you grant autonomy and we are charging the normal rate then we will give you the 40 percent.”
Also, the National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said, “As a union, we are in a meeting to take the decision. They are not supposed to deduct anything from anyone. The university is not generating revenue, this means you want to give students loans and you want to go back to the universities to collect it as 40% IGR.
“These are universities that are not properly funded. Parents are complaining that they can’t pay the current fees, yet you want to collect 40 per cent of the little universities earn.” [The Punch]