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My Thoughts on ASUU Strike – By Dr. Leonard K. Shilgba

By Dr. Leonard K. Shilgba | NNP | August 17, 2022

MY THOUGHTS ON ASUU STRIKE
Lagos State universities are not on strike!
I am yet to understand why academic staff of  state-owned universities often abandon their classrooms  when ASUU declares a trade dispute with the Federal Government, not State Governments, over noncompliance with agreements signed by the Federal Government, not by State Governments, and while the union negotiates with the Federal Government without representation by State Governments.
Need I remind that ours in Nigeria is a Federation with SEPARATE tiers of government?
Since 1999 it has been estimated that ASUU has cumulatively been on strike for more than 5 years! If ASUU’s primary aim with the perennial strikes is to “fix the university system”, I am not unconvinced that they have accomplished the very opposite. To pursue the same course of action every so often to solve a problem is meaningless if the solution remains out of reach.
I don’t agree with my brother, the honourable minister Festus Keyamo that we should “beg ASUU”; that is not a solution, and would rather project ASUU as heartless and unpatriotic.
FACTS THAT MATTER
1. In 2014, when Governor Suswam of Benue State coordinated for the Federal Government a Needs Assessment scheme for federal universities, the gross monthly salary of professors at the bar (CONUASS 7/10) in federal universities was about 3,000 US dollars. In spite of the about 10% increase in their salaries in 2019, the same professor’s gross salary presently is about 1,300 US dollars a month. When statutory deductions are made, their net salary is less than 1,000 US dollars a month!  I understand that all Nigerian workers have taken a similar hit on their real income.
2. ASUU leaders are cerebral (After all, TETFUND is a brainchild of ASUU), and can engage FG team (comprising representatives of Federal Ministries of Education and Finance, Head of Service of the Federation, Federal Budget Office, and Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission) to brainstorm funding sources outside of TETFUND. It would not be unrealistic to request both government and ASUU to accept and revert to the 2014 real income status of the lecturers. In other words, in naira, Nigerian university lecturers should be paid their 2014 dollar equivalent salaries. This should not be a problem, because presently the Federal Government spends less amount of US dollars than the Jonathan government did in 2014 to pay salaries. For example, the same 3,000 US dollars that was used in 2014 to pay the salary of one professor is today being used to pay the salaries of THREE professors. Accordingly, in dollar terms, the Federal Government spends less today on personnel compensation than it did in 2014. The Nigerian government earns in US dollars on the sale of crude oil and natural gas among earnings on other revenue items.
3. On improved funding  of research (including publications, which the current TETFUND leadership is positively focused upon) and critical infrastructure in public universities, ASUU’s collaboration with TETFUND management needs to be recalibrated and enhanced.
4. In the long term, ASUU’s demand for “University Autonomy” should be granted. Already a presidential candidate (Asiwaju Tinubu) has promised to grant “financial autonomy” to federal universities. However, ASUU must be engaged to define what, in practical fiscal terms, “financial autonomy” means, so that both ASUU and the federal government are agreed on both  the definition and application. ASUU should be considered by any government in power  as a dependable partner in knowledge productivity and social development, not as an adversary.
5.  I hope that President Buhari’s six-week ultimatum to relevant government officials to work towards resolving the logjam with ASUU will not be sabotaged by some invisible characters. Our students must return to our public universities, but our lecturers need conditions of service that are not worse than they were in 2014.
Leonard Karshima Shilgba is a Professor of Mathematics (Not a member of ASUU)
©Shilgba

Leonard Karshima Shilgba, PhD

Professor of Mathematics,
Director of Academic Planning and Quality Assurance,
Pioneer Ag Vice Chancellor/President,
Pioneer Vice President (Academics)
Admiralty University of Nigeria.

Tel: +234-7035939505;
+234-9074346000 (WhatsApp)

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=64067

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