Education

FIGHTING ASUU: LET US SUPPORT GOVERNMENT

The Academic Staff Union of Universities encouraged its members to stop teaching in order to pressure the federal government of Nigeria into signing a revised agreement with the Union and complying with a 14-month strike notice (December 2020 – February 14, 2021). This came about as a result of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) administration’s failure to adhere to deadlines in the Memoradum of Action (MOA) the latter party and the president signed on December 22, 2020. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation had been frustrating the Union and its members even after submitting the requested documents, according to a March 3, 2021 letter from ASUU to President Buhari from its immediate past president, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, after the government had failed to meet the deadlines. The Union said that breaking the terms of the MOA agreements could inflame conflict and jeopardize peace in the workplace. After a six-month strike rollover, the government continued to mistreat the Union, forcing it to declare a comprehensive and indefinite strike on August 29, 2022.

Do Nigerians care where and how their children are taught, and how did we get here? The federal government decided to allocate N1.3 trillion over six years for the revival of the university system after the Goodluck Jonathan administration’s 2012 Needs Assessment revealed the decay in Nigeria’s public universities. The government team that conducted the exercise, not ASUU as the government would like the public to believe, is who came up with the sum. 2013 (200 billion), 2014 (220 billion), 2015 (220 billion), 2016 (220 billion), 2017 (220 billion), and 2018 were the six years for payment (220billion). The Jonathan government released the initial 200 billion after the strike in 2013. 2014 was distracted by politics, and universities received no cash for renewal. Since Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015, his administration has only given N50 billion of the 220 billion intended for the tranche from 2014! The Union and PMB had agreed that since the government insisted on only releasing 220 billion at once, it should pay 55 billion in quarterly installments and be done with it in a year. However, this government once again failed! Threats of strikes were necessary to get them to pay the N50 billion that was paid because it was never even released once. The Buhari administration currently claims that the remaining 170 billion dollars will be included in the 2023 budget and implemented around May 2023.

ASUU offered the government plenty of time to take action, but those in the halls of power were too intoxicated to save the nation’s educational system. The government, which owes lecturers certified arrears of earned academic allowances dating back more than eight years, is now announcing that the money would be included in the 2023 budget and paid in 2023. This administration and the present National Assembly made an appeal to the Union solely on this issue and made a commitment to include the earned academic allowances in the 2022 budget. They were unable to accomplish so.

In regards to the renegotiated agreements, the administration abandoned democracy and entered the negotiation table with autocracy, expecting to intimidate the Union of Intellectuals into giving up collective bargaining. The current pitiful income of a Nigerian professor (N416,000), which is not even up to $1,000, would increase by N60,000 for those who have worked as professors for at least ten years. The worth of a professor’s salary in 2009, when the agreement under discussion was signed, was about $3000. The 2009 agreement described how ASUU traded a higher compensation scale for a lower salary scale based on the government’s argument that the economy could not maintain that competitive salary (Table II). The re-negotiation committee “noted that Nigerian university academics represent the critical mass of scholars in the society, with the power to reform it,” according to the study. They merit special terms of service that would encourage them, like intellectuals in other areas of the world, to deliver services with higher efficiency and effectiveness in regard to teaching, research, and community service, and therefore stop the brain drain. Following this guiding principle, the Re-negotiation Committee gathered data on the relocation of Nigerian academics to developed nations and other African nations including South Africa, Ghana, and Botswana. It was stated that future salary negotiations would start from Table 1, which the government claimed the economy could not support at that time. The figure in Table 1 relevant African average is the average remuneration of Academics in selected African countries with which Nigeria potentially or effectively competes for the recruitment of Academic Staff. However, the government is currently rejecting negotiations. Either you take N60,000 or you ignore it. Even if this authoritarian imposition is terrible, it won’t be implemented until after elections next year. A country that raises injustice as the standard is unable to flourish, and it breeds corruption and violence as ways of life.

We bemoan the fact that South African universities are performing better and want our universities to compete with them, but we’support’ our politicians’ use of public funds to pay for their children’s overseas education, and we blame ASUU for fighting to ensure that all children have access to publicly funded, high-quality education. Assistant Lecturers in Ugandan public universities made $1,631 per month, Senior Lecturers $2,432 per month, Associate Professors $3,891 per month, and Professors $4,054 per month (as of 2021). According to the University of South Africa, junior lecturers make between N10,453,326 and N17,427,663 and professors make between N22,325,844 and N37,209,741 annually. Senior lecturers make between N16,272,983 and N27,891,819. This is frequently reassessed with further incentives. A South African academic must be on an externally financed scholarship if you encounter them in Nigerian universities. With the pitiful earnings we offer, we cannot even attract workers from the global north.

I believe that Nigerians are pleased that teachers at polytechnics and institutes of education make more money than those at Nigeria’s state universities. Public university instructors educate more while receiving subpar pay since at least 80% of applicants for the yearly JAMB prefer a university education. Global ratings and rankings only include universities (not polytechnic institutions or colleges of education). Nigerians who believe ASUU is championing the wrong cause should stop griping about how poorly ranked Nigerian colleges are on the world stage. Because they do not believe that public colleges need to be revitalized, they should not place the blame for the poor quality of graduates being produced. Without the universe moving through them, they are just concerned with their wards entering and leaving institutions. They shouldn’t assume that students who have been raised in zoo-like settings will act normally once they graduate. The world at our universities employing the world of renowned poet Professor Niyi Osundare will further erode as a result of such individuals holding political position since they will see no reason to invest in public education. As they have been doing, our best will depart, and politicians will infest the ivory towers!

The Universe in the University: A Scholar-Look Poet’s from Inside Out, Professor Niyi Osundare’s farewell address, responds to those who call for the commercialization of public colleges. He asserted, “A University cannot be administered like a profit-making business or corporation and still be expected to retain the soul and sense of Academia. Our university is being pressured by budget cuts from a Nigerian government that only pays lip service to education and is being compelled to hunt for money in every possible manner. Even if it must be acknowledged that some departments are in a better position than others to attract outside funding, any attempt to commodify education and commercialize the disciplines would only serve to undermine the very fabric of our university. Time has taught us that a university can never be administered as a profitable business. Simply put, some types of information simply cannot be evaluated based on their monetary value. Niyi Osundare’s article from July 26, 2005

I’ve taken the effort to explain the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s “futuristic rewards” in connection to the demands of the ASUU, and it is clear from this that nothing has been done. With millions of dollars, the government saved Airlines without announcing that it will be included in the budget for 2023. Our future lies in education. Beyond what it already is, we cannot afford more degradation. We cannot make light of our lecturers’ welfare. If we keep electing “Londoners” who don’t care about the nation but are ready to exploit it, we won’t advance. I’ll close this essay with a quote from Lai Muhammad, who served as the opposition’s spokesperson at the time and is currently the minister of information: “Talk is cheap.” Lai Muhammed, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, stated in 2013 (Daily Post, August 21, 2013), in response to the ASUU strike, “What we are saying is that if the federal government would reduce its profligacy and cut waste, there will be enough money to pay teachers in public universities, as well as fund research and upgrade infrastructure in such institutions. Teachers who are too hungry to teach or conduct research will both fail. “Now in administration, has this government reduced waste and decreased profligacy? And poorly instructed kids can neither excel nor move their nation to high heights.” Has this administration supported innovative research and updated infrastructure? Is the government not requesting that lecturers receive subsistence wages and resume teaching? Can pupils who have received bad instruction succeed and advance Nigeria’s development as this government advocates? Let’s help the government combat ASUU, ladies and gentlemen.

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196 Comments

    1. Do FG really think about ASUU as at now? All what FG is thinking of now is the forth coming election nd less of ASUU, I urge Every Nigerians to start praying because it seriously affecting the common Nigerians who can’t afford private institutions…….. What a country wasting her leader because of self….

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