A short note to ASUU Leaders at NEC meeting – By Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik

Advertisements
Advertisements

Advertisements

It is no doubt that without the ASUU struggles for these years, the Nigerian public universities would have completely lost the existing semblance of a university that they have got. The struggle has forced the successive governments to release little funds they were ordinarily not willing to release for public universities.

Key to the achievement of the struggle was the establishment of TETFund. But the establishment of TETFund seems to have resulted in another problem. The proliferation of “unfunded” universities.

Rather than allow TETFund to focus on strengthening the capabilities of the existing universities in accordance with the motive behind setting it up, politicians seem to have hijacked the agency to aid the proliferation of universities, universities that won’t be properly funded after their establishment.

Transport, Agriculture, Medical sciences can comfortably exist as faculties and colleges in the university. Instead of expanding and empowering the respective faculties or colleges of some selected universities to achieve whatever they want to achieve, vested interests were able to make the Federal government establish more federal universities for TETFund to fund.

The government is complaining of the burden of overhead costs but creating more overhead costs. I am trying to figure out the economic sense.

Every state government now has multiple state universities, including states that cannot pay the salaries of primary school teachers. The first place the governors will go after conceiving the idea of a new university and before even obtaining approval from NUC is TETFund Boss for intervention support.

Every member of the National Assembly wants a university or any other higher institution in his village because there is a fund at TETFund. Even the private universities established as business ventures want access to deep their hands in TETFund.

In all, the demands and arguments of ASUU, proper funding of the universities always come as the number one on the list while the members’ welfare is hidden somewhere inside. By the time they are exhausted discussing funding, there appears to be not enough time to discuss Lecturers’ welfare?

The welfare negotiation is pushed to another time. Possibly next strike. But it will still not top the list of the demands for the next strike. That may be responsible for the reason why university lecturers have not got a pay rise since 2009, but rather a pay reduction in 2020.

I can’t imagine you expecting me to think of university funding and be of optimum performance when my take-home pay cannot take me home and I have an outstanding 41 months salary arrears that I am not sure when it will be paid.

What are the primary objectives of a Union? Fight the university management’s fight (university funding) or the members’ fight (salaries and welfare)? Which should top the list of the demands?

Why are the ASUU leaders afraid of making salary review (the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement) top the list of the demands? Are we afraid of public perceptions? The public whose mind is made up about us or the public that thinks a Professor earns about a million naira per month?

Is it a pretext or do we truly believe that university funding is more important than a pay rise for us? While we are still in the fight for the funding of the public universities, Nigerian Customs got a pay rise of like 300% like 2 years ago with about N220,000 as the lowest salary for a graduate in Customs.

I never realized how poor we are as lecturers today until the recent revelation from the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, of his salary as Lecturer II at Unilag in 1981. His salary of N620 per month in 1981 was evaluated to be equivalent to N420,000 in 2022 at the official exchange rate. But the Lecturer II of today, even with a PhD, earns about N135,000 per month.

Dear President and the other NEC members, It is no news that you are in a meeting to decide on the looming strike action and the public is waiting for the outcome. If a strike is going to be declared, a large number of ASUU members are expecting that the conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the implementation of the renegotiated agreement should top the list of demands.

As a PhD and Postdoc scholar outside Nigeria, you could afford a holiday with your family from the savings from your pay. But as a Senior academic in Nigeria, your salary can’t even take you home and a holiday is out of it. For now, the fight for revitalization can wait till we get a salary that can take us home.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *