It is recorded that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has embark on 16 strikes in 23 years, some of which lasted for a period of one year, some, six months, and so on.
The conflict between ASUU and Federal Government seems to be an unending dilemma, and it is very worrisome to see the future of several millions of Nigerian students callously programmed to experience a bleaker at continuous interval.
As part of my curiosity to get an in-depth clarification on why this uncouth situation have lasted for so long and kept surfacing almost every year, I was privileged to engage a Professor of Mass Communication, lecturing in the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State in a lengthy conversation. I could not but agree to Profs dispositions on the subject matter as it clearly pinpoints the genuity of collective interest by the union, an interest for University Lecturers and Students.
The major factors which the union termed as sacrosanct, resulting in the ambivalent industrial strike are as follow:
- The refusal of Federal Government to approve an alternative mode of payment of workers salary which the union presented as UTAS as opposed to IPPIS.
- Welfarism (Salary increase).
According to the Union, the modalities of the payment of salary to its members through the integrated payroll and personal information system (IPPIS) is an infringement on University right to autonomy, and as such will not be accepted. This claim is unarguably backed by the constitution, but the federal government choose not to regard it, perhaps for selfish interest.
Now on the issue of welfarism, you will agree with me that the educational sector is one of the highest employer of labour particularly in Nigeria today, but unfortunately, the salary structure of teachers in primary, secondary, and tertiary institution is overly ridiculous. Also, the persistent hike in school fees in both State and Federal University is ruly and totally uncalled for, and this is also slightly captured in the concerns of ASUU.
It might interest you to know that a senior professor is subjected to a meager salary of four to five million naira annually, while a dormant senator is placed on a staggering annual salary of one hundred, and sixty million naira or more, according to a report by Shehu Sani , a Nigerian senator in 2018 (DYOR).
Against the poor funding of educational sector, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) recommended that developing countries should allocate twenty six percent of their annual budget to education, but Nigeria’s allocation is still less than ten percent, whereas Ghana and South Africa have recently stepped up to meet twenty six percent of the recommendation, respectively. The FGN will rather allocate billions of naira for election and baseless trips to foreign countries on yearly basis
I’ll like to sum it up by saying that the bone of contention between ASUU and FG will continue to linger if the federal government of Nigeria refuse to place priorities on Education through adequate funding, and transparency of activities. Until this is achieved, University lecturers will continue to suffer financial handicap, force to rigmarole through multiple lecturing jobs at multiple institution, and psychological imbalance. This in turn will also continue to affect students academy performance as a result of persistent interrupted teaching activities.
I therefore share in the sentiments of ASUU, as it is void of any form of selfish interest but a just tussle for a better Nigeria, to secure the financial security of its members and incoming future lecturers.
It is a painstaking exercise and magnitude of financial expenses in obtaining a Doctorate degree or getting appointed as a Professor in this part of the world, so in all entirety, lecturers and students deserve better. I also would like to commend the BREKETE family for their great concern in an attempted fund raising for the union, so that students can resume school, even though it was put on hold for some reasons. This is just another good reason for the Nigerian youths to get their PVC and vote against a myopic government.
Read other articles by Anisere Akinade below:
- Roses of Bl*od
- Maladies of Politics
- The other side of Nature
- Deadly Notion that can make you vulnerable to R*PE
- Broken Mirrors