The Inordinate Demands of ASUU and the Future of Nigerian Students By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
In the sociology of Nigeria, only the government is evil personified, others are saints. How time flies! The evil principalities that corrupted Nigeria in the 90s but presently out of political circulation are the latest activists preaching equity to Nigerians.
These evil men and women were the ones who embezzled the little resources of the nation, meant to cater for their followers back then! Today, they are the saints while the government is the devil.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and their sponsors are at it again. They have apparently conspired and locked-up the gates leading to all public Varsities in Nigeria since the 2nd of July in agitation for better condition of service. I christened it a better condition of service because that was what they told the media, but a critical look at the demands shows they are unrealistic with the selfish demands, concocted to wheedle the gullible Nigerians. ASUU members are blaming government for the rot in the education system meanwhile they are part of those who contributed to the woes of the system.
On the Demands of ASUU: the Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, while speaking at the floor of the senate on the 23rd of october, further revealed in details, the demands of ASUU from the Federal Government.
The senator representing Abia North Senatorial District who read the controversial 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU, said part of the component of the agreement on funding stipulated that “all regular Federal universities shall require N1.5 trillion for the period 2009 to 2011. Note: “Federal Universities”! Now if I may ask, why are states-owned universities on strike? Is it Federal Government that will fund state-owned Varsities and pay their lecturers earned and responsiblitIes allowances?
Furthermore, Chukwumerijie averred in his presentation that ASUU was insisting that the agreement be implemented to the latter. He said that the agreement reads that, “this money is to be paid in three installments, 2009 almost N500 billion; 2010 almost N500 billion; 2011 almost N506 billion”.
The fund were meant for renovation and construction of hostels, libraries, office accommodation, lecture theaters and classrooms, laboratories, etc. He also said that other components of the agreement include Salary Structure and earned allowances.
The summary of the earned allowances goes as thus:
Post graduate supervision allowances; Teaching practice and industrial allowances; honorarium for external moderation of undergraduate and postgraduate examination system, postgraduate study grants; external assessment of readers or professors, Call duty and clinical duty and hazard allowance and excess workload allowance.
Other demands include “non salary condition of service, which includes clinical loan, car refurbishing, housing loan, research leave, sabbatical leave, sick leave, maternity leave, injury pension, provision of office accommodation and facilities, Pension of university academic staff and compulsory retirement age, National Health Insurance Scheme, transfer of landed property, execution of the contract which the intervention fund released would be executed through ASUU holdings, patronage of university services, funds from alumni associations, private sector contributions, cost saving measures, duty free importation of education materials by universities and setting up research development units by companies operating in Nigeria, were also part of the agreement.
Country people, let’s patriotically look at the demand above and assert whether they are realistic or not?
Most of these demands are self-serving. ASUU apparently put forward the funding aspect of the demands to gain public sympathy. I make bold to avow that Nigerian Students are at home because of the allowances of ASUU and not because of funding. The status update’s document of the negotiation between FG and ASUU shows that negotiation broke down because of ASUU’s earned and responsibilities allowances. The document revealed that ASUU has agreed with the FG’s proposal to release N100billion this year for funding. ASUU should stop fooling the general public. It is wrong and satanic to shut down the gates of all public Varsities because of your allowances.mASUU members should take the N40billion already offered them by FG for the payment of their allowances and call off the ongoing four months old industrial action.
In addition, let me urge ASUU members to consider posterity and stop sounding like Angels and saints. They are part of the architects of the rot in the education sector. They are the ones sleeping with our ladies in campuses in return for mark. They are the ones selling marks to males students. They are the one collecting money for approving plagiarized research project paper. They are the one colluding with management to rusticate students’ leaders. They are the one absconding from lecture rooms only to start rushing students when examinations timetable is out.
What of the shameful and reckless sale of plagiarized textbook of less than 100 pages for N1000 by lecturers? Are members of ASUU on leaves of absence not the major administrators at NUC, TETFUND, INEC, UBEC, etc? What of the ASUU, ASUP and COEASU members on leave of absence in States House of Assemblies and the two chambers of the National Assembly and the Executive Arm? Are most of the Commissioners for Education not members of staff Unions on leave of absence? Are staff union members not serving as Deputy Governors at the moment? Are they not serving as Council Chairmen at the moment? Are their members not the majority amongst the members of Governing Councils in our tertiary institutions nationwide? Despite their contributions, has the system be cleaned?
May I also tell the public that funding is not the major battle waging against the education system in Nigeria. Take for instance, In the ongoing year 2013, over 300billion was appropriated by the government to the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) (formerly Education Trust Fund “ETF”). N140billion has been made available via NEEDs for the provision of infrastructures in Public universities and payment of several allowances to lecturers. A whooping sum of N430 billion is the 2013 budget of the Federal Ministry of Education. If you add everything together, you have N880billion (excluding budget for the Universal Basic Education Board).
Fellow Nigerians, please has anything changed with all these funds? NO! I put it to the public that money cannot perform the magic! Every stakeholders in the educational sector needs proper re-orientation on the need to come together and make the system work. Both lecturers, students, parents and government had contributed to the rots in the education sector of Nigeria. Let’s stop blaming Government.
We must not allow a union to hold the nation into ransom. Nigerians should peruse the 2009 agreement with knee interest before judging. One of our major problems is the fact that we don’t take time to analyse issues for ourselves. Rather, we flow with the tide of public opinion which is most often defined by a few opinion shapers.
Lastly, i urge ASUU and the councils and management members of all public universities to account for how the funds being released from the annual Increment in our tuition fee are being spent. Where is pre-degree, part-time, diploma, sandwich, post UTME and post-graduate application forms money? Where is the school and tuition fee realized from pre-degree, part-time, sandwish, post-UTME, diploma, full time and post-graduate students? How is the monthly grant from government being spent? What about the billions of Naira being realized on Internally Generated Revenue? What about the little being released by government for research? Where is the result of the N1.5billion that the Fashola led governemnt of Lagos State claimed to have given the Lagoss State University (LASU) for research? Where is the bicycle that Lagos State university engeneering deparments have manufactured? Where are the projects that the billions of naira that Nigerian Universities do make of Alumini Association are spent on? Where are the donations of numerous corporate organizations and individuals? Where are these monies?
Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, Magodo, Lagos.Maxwell_adeleye@yahoo.com
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