Why FG is the Enemy of Public Universities in Nigeria and not ASUU

274

By Habib Korede

Many Nigerian students resent ASUU because of her perennial strike that has always lengthened study periods.

I believe this resentment is because of the ignorance of the students who lack the idea of what ASUU is always agitating for, and this is because of the deficiencies in ASUU’s students and public relations.

The desperation of the students who are eager to graduate from the walls of the higher institutions without minding the quality of their education also heightened the resentment; this has also enhanced the students to always support the federal government—the enemy of the Nigerian public universities.

The federal government has always been negligent of the standard of the public educational sector, and ASUU has been at the forefront for wanting to revamp the decaying state of the public universities that is rapidly reducing to the current frightening state of the public secondary and primary schools.

ASUU’s strike action has always been a last-resort-necessity for the overall development of the education industry in Nigeria; particularly when the federal government has deliberately ignored other approaches.

ASUU’s conflict with the Federal government started in the 90s when the Union was established, and this is because of ASUU’s undying desire for robust learning institutions.

The strike is the language our government understands better. For example, in 1988, during IBB’s regime, despite the military threats, the union achieved its mission after they had embarked on strike.

Check the records: ASUU achieved under strike action all the major developments in the public institutions. In every public university, you will certainly come across projects funded by either TETFUND which was formerly ETF, or the NEEDS assessment program.

Both TETFUND and NEEDS came into existence under the mandates of ASUU when the federal government claimed she can’t revitalize the public universities.

As a graduate civil engineer, I’ll cite an example in my field. For instance, when a civil engineering student can’t conduct a Standard Penetration Test (SPT); one of the most basic experiments in civil engineering, just because his university doesn’t have the equipment, or it is no longer functioning.

How better do you expect this student to perform when executing a civil engineering project or interpreting the experiment result? What do you think will happen to a multi-story building when the engineer on-site doesn’t even know there’s a rebar tensile test machine used to test the strength of a steel bar to ensure it meets the desired tensile-strength requirements?

The long-term implications of the current situation ASUU is fighting are what we should always consider; that’s what sane people do.

Go to public university laboratories and workshops. Most of the equipment and machinery you will find is malfunctioning or outdated. TETFUND provided the modern ones you will find. The view of the students’ hostel is an eyesore, the government doesn’t even care, but TETFUND is trying its best to revamp the hostels.

Many lecturers have received scholarships from TETFUND to further their Master’s and PhDs programs in several reputable universities abroad. This has improved the quality of education in public universities.

It is a global phenomenon that investment in university education is a catalyst for national development. Quality education is one premier aspect needed to produce students with knowledge and skills that will boost productive research. It is disturbing to know that the level of exposure of university students in Nigeria is far below that of secondary school students in progressive countries.

UNESCO has set a standard for every country to at least allocate 25% of its yearly budget to education, but Nigeria is battling to allocate 11.86% to education. It is only ASUU that has been receiving the bullets of criticism and insults from Nigerians.

ASUU’s offense is because of her zeal to ensure the educational sector receives an adequate budget allocation.

ASUU knows that joining Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) is not healthy for the educational system of the country and is highly susceptible to foreign spies.

They proposed UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability System) a locally made payment method, yet the federal government rejected it. IPPIS violates public university autonomy, but we all know the government doesn’t care about public education.

A university lecturer is entitled to at least N15,000 per project supervised for a student, but this money has never been paid, and ASUU is not even making any fuse about that because they are particularly interested in rejuvenating the education industry.

Yet, the lawmakers receive millions for sitting allowance. Resourceful projects by university students are lying wasteful in the library. The federal government hasn’t been implementing the findings made by the researchers of the university. The federal government doesn’t appreciate indigenous discoveries. The list of how the federal government has been the enemy of public education is endless.

I once had an engaging conversation with one of my lecturers, and he informed me that no professor at the university is earning up to N500,000. Yet, professor Yemi Osinbajo, a potential presidential aspirant, ridiculed himself by trying to justify the embarrassing salaries of university lecturers. It is pathetic to know that the maximum per annum salary of a university professor in Nigeria is less than six million naira.

Shehu Sani, a former senator representing Kaduna central, once revealed that a senator receives 13,500,000 million naira per month, besides N750,000 thousand monthly allowance. N13.5 million + N750 thousand = 14.250 million naira monthly. N14,250,000 × 12 months = N171,000,000 yearly.

If a professor receives roughly N500,000 monthly salary. N500,000 × 12 months = N6,000,000 yearly. If a senator is receiving one hundred and seventy-one million naira yearly, and a university professor is receiving six million naira yearly, then this shows that annually, a university professor is receiving 3.51% of a senator’s annual salary.

In other words; 171,000,000/6,000,000 = 28.5; this also means that in a year, a senator is receiving roughly twenty-nine years’ salary of a professor. Haba! Who in his right senses will justify this gross inequality? Besides, who does more work between a lecturer and a senator? But Osinbajo, who also identifies as a former university lecturer, is repugnantly trying to justify this absurdity.

It is foolery for you to say that a teacher’s reward is in heaven. Why must a teacher’s reward be in heaven? Why not here on earth, and then in heaven? Most lecturers are living in abject poverty for educating the future leaders, future CEOs, future MDs; while the people who are milking the country dry are overlooked and celebrated.

Yet, you are comfortable insulting the lecturers who stood for their rights and sacrificed their all to ensure these greedy leaders do not collapse the public universities so that your children can also be educated. By the way, who else do you expect to know their rights and stand for it religiously if not the lecturers? Yet, ASUU has always been at the receiving end of it all, and not the federal government.

We need to shift our question from why is ASUU going ok strike to why hasn’t the federal government fulfilled the agreement it reached with ASUU? How did the federal government garner sufficient funds to revitalize the National Assembly complex at an outrageous cost but doesn’t have any for the revitalization of the federal universities?

What is the logic behind building new substandard universities leaving old ones to continue deteriorating? Is educational advancement rated by the number of universities in a country or by the number of quality universities in the country?