The Untold Story of Greedy, Covetous ASUU Demands By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
I coined this piece because it is obvious that most Nigerians are ignorant of the root of the ongoing nationwide industrial action embarked on by the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It is necessary I do this because lies are currently triumphing over truth, Propaganda is currently wining over reality, and most pitifully, misinformation is at the moment, singing victory song in the media against accuracy and sacredness of facts. Let me assert that one of our major problems in Nigeria 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.
Nonetheless, for the sake of the already wheedled, coaxed and cajoled general public, the analysis of the ASUU’s demands from federal government (FG) goes as thus:
Duty free importation of education materials: If this is approved, Nigerian custom Service will stop collecting duty from those importing education materials into Nigeria. However, I wish to tell the public one thing that they have never heard: ASUU want FG to recognize her company called ASUU Holdings as the only organization that will be importing education materials into the country. Can you see greediness? ASUU Holdings want to be importing education materials without paying duty to the Nigerian Custom Service. Can you see selfishness? Is that what will turn Bayero University, Kano to Oxford?
Post graduate supervision allowances: ASUU is demanding for the payment of one hundred and fifty seven thousand Naira (N157, 000) from the federal government on each of the post graduate student’s research project supervised. I.e. Post graduate diploma, masters and doctorate degrees’ students. It has been confirmed that this has never happened in the world. However, If this is approved, a lecturer with five research students go home with N800, 000 per session.
Teaching practice and industrial allowances: according to the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), ASUU is demanding for the payment of fifty thousand on each student on teaching practice supervised. A lecturer that supervises forty students per session go home with N2million. Same goes to those on industrial attachment. It is commonsensical for Transportation allowance to be paid to Lecturers in this regard but I doubt if FG can pay the amount being demanded by ASUU as teaching practice allowance. In addition, as I write, education students are not being paid allowance by varsities management whose most members are part of ASUU.
READ: Strike: ASUU President Bares It All, Exposes Okonjo-Iweala, States Condition For Call-Off
Transfer of landed property: ASUU want federal government to transfer all the landed properties in public varsities to ASUU holdings. The man who owns a land own the building(s) erected on it. Lawfully, giving all the landed properties in public varsities to ASUU is like FG dashing out all the buildings in public varsities to ASUU. That is the constitutional interpretation. That will never happen till Jesus Christ comes back. It has also been revealed by NANS that FG has given ASUU national leaders two hundred and fifty million Naira (N250million) as the take off grant of ASUU holdings. ASUU want government landed properties so that by the time their allowances are paid, her members will start building hostels accommodation on the lands and rent them out to students. What a lucrative business!
Honorarium for external moderation of undergraduate and postgraduate examination system: ASUU is demanding for the payment of twenty thousand Naira (N20, 000) per each examination paper supervised. That was what they told the federal government.
Execution of NEEDs projects: ASUU is demanding that the one hundred billion Naira (N100billion) already made available by the FG for infrastructure development in public varsities should be managed by ASUU holdings. Please were lecturers employed to serve as contractors to government? How does that benefit Nigerian Students?
Study grants; external assessment of readers or professors, Call duty and clinical duty and hazard allowance and excess workload allowance: A lecturer could be paid excess workload allowance. That is tenable. Hazard allowance could also be paid. That is justifiable. However,study grant, external assessment of readers or professors, call and clinical duty, if approved, are privilege, not the rights of ASUU.
Non-salary condition of service, which includes clinical loan, car refurbishing and housing loan: All these are privilege if approved. They are not the rights of ASUU. Aren’t lecturers being paid monthly salaries?
Research leave, sabbatical leave, sick leave, maternity leave and injury pension: sabbatical leave is already in place. The rules say a lecturer on sabbatical leave should be paid for the first six months. Anything after six month doesn’t attract payment. Double payment is wrong. Take for an example, a lecturer employed by the University of Calabar (UNICAL) but presently on leave of absence at the University of Ibadan (UI) will be collecting salaries from UNICAL for the first six months and also from UI from the first day he got there. ASUU is demanding for the payment of salary from both institutions throughout the period of sabbatical leave. That is impossible. Research leave is a just one. Very necessary. However, I make bold to say that shutting down of universities for more than four months because of such demands is height of heartlessness.
Provision of office accommodation and facilities: No sane mind will counter this demand. The present state of office accommodation in most of our campuses is a blot on the landscape. I support this demand without any reservation.
Pension of university academic staff and compulsory retirement age, National Health Insurance Scheme: the retirement age of professors has already Been increased from 65 to 70 years. To me, this demand ought not to have been approved because Considering the alarming rate of youths unemployment in Nigeria, approving this kind of demand is like delaying the breakthrough of Nigerian youths. I consider the students that supported ASUU over this as being naive.
Patronage of university services: this is not by force. It is not a right. Patronizing varsities services is necessary and good for encouragement but it is not compulsory. Shutting down of classrooms over this was wrong.
Funds from alumni associations: please how does this concern government?
Private Sectors Contribution: A right is different from a privilege. No government can force a corporate organization to do what it doesn’t want to do once he’s paying it’s tax accordingly. Take for an example, the government of Ekiti state cannot force Coca-Cola to donate classrooms to Ekiti State University. The company can only be lobbied. This is not a military reign, democracy has taken over.
Last on the list of the demands is the one that ASUU sold to the media to gain public sympathy: the release of N1.5trn within four years for infrastructure development in public varsities. Country people, If that is approved, how many trillions will polytechnics and colleges of education be given beside their normal monthly grant and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)? What of primary and secondary education? What of the other sectors of the economy such as roads, health, security, water, transportation, housing, etc? Why is ASUU insisting on executing the projects in which the N100, 000 already released via NEEDs are meant for? ASUU want to become government contractor, and If this scaled through, soon, election into ASUU leadership positions will be like the Nigeria’s governorship, presidential and national assembly’s elections. Sanity will be lost. Money bags will take over. Capitalists will take over. Brigandage will be introduced. It will be fire for fire. Everybody will want to chop. Infact, ASUU President will become richer than the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
More also, why are lecturers in states-owned varsities on strike? Is it the FG that will offer them all the allowances listed above? I believe we are still having federalism as a system of government in Nigeria.
Furthermore, let me re-echo that ASUU is no longer on strike because of Nigerian Students and the reviving of the Nigerian Universities.
Firstly, the over four months wasted for students by ASUU can never be regained. It is not possible. ASUU members ought to have resumed since august if truly they on strike because of Nigerian students. The general public should note that ASUU has never had it so good like this since the union was founded in 1978. The 25% of what the Jonathan led government has offered ASUU have never been offered by government since the advent of democratic rule in Nigeria.
Secondly, the statement issued on the 1st november by the national executive councils of the Senior Staff association of nigerian Universities ( SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities ( NASU) in respect of the ongoing strike embarked on by ASUU was an outright vindication of my humble self in relation to my earlier position which says that ASUU is greedy and selfish. The Statement goes as thus:
“The three Non-Teaching Staff Unions of NAAT, SSANU and NASU are opposed to any extraneous demands by either ASUU or any group in the university which are prejudicial to the welfare of our members. Our stand is that government should jettison the so called ASUU’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU being referred to by ASUU is for their selfish end and it is bound to generate more crises in the university sub-sector. The Non-Teaching Staff Unions in the universities will stoutly resist any attempt to ‘sell’ the universities to ASUU.”
Consequent upon the forgoing, i wish to ask that, assuming without conceding that myself and NANS had been bribed by FG as some ASUU Activists had been saying without any evidence, were SSANU and NASU also bribed? Compatriots, it is an affirmation of reality that the only thing that is sacrostant in life is truth. Truth hurt pass lies. The signed agreement is a moral burden on FG but legally, it is not binding. Nigerians should carefully peruse the 2009 agreement with knee interest before judging.
God bless Nigeria!
Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, Magodo, Lagos.
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