The Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) on Monday alerted Nigerians about a fresh crisis it claimed would surpass all previous ones in public universities.
To avert this, the lecturers have sought the intervention of stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the federal government to pay members across the country their withheld eight months’ salaries.
The chairman of ASUU, University of Ilorin branch, Prof Moyosore Ajao, raised the alarm at a special congress of the local branch held at the university’s main auditorium.
The university’s lecturers had staged a solidarity rally within the campus before retiring to the auditorium where they addressed the newsmen on, “Casualisation of Intellectual Workers In Nigeria: Prelude To Our Response”.
He said, “Though we have resumed work in our university, the government’s ignoble stance of withholding our eight months’ salaries based on its ill-advised policy of ‘No work, No Pay’ is set to trigger a fresh crisis.
“In the coming days, the union would respond by considering invoking the ‘No Pay, No work’ policy and would abandon the works that have accumulated for those periods which the government has falsely claimed, through Chris Ngige, that our members have not worked.”
He said members of the public are “put on notice again that a fresh crisis, which would surpass all previous ones, is looming in Nigerian universities, saying the union members would not continue to do free work.
He added, “Our union and its members should not be held responsible for the consequences that its actions, in response to the crude wickedness of the Nigerian state, would have on all stakeholders.
“As a law-abiding union, we have heeded the directive of the court which directed that we resume our duty posts while the substantive matter is being heard. However, after the resumption of the strike and to our utmost dismay, the government decided, that half of salaries be paid to our members for October 2022. This development is unacceptable and would be resisted by our union.
“The fact is that academics are not casual workers. Only casual workers receive pay prorate”
Meanwhile, the University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU on Monday protested what they described as the ‘merciless treatment’ of university lecturers by the Federal Government.
The protesting lecturers moved within the campus with placards and sang to register their displeasure.
A congress would be held immediately after the rally.
ASUU Chairman, UI Chapter, Prof Ayoola Akinwole, who addressed students and journalists during the rally, said it is a peaceful protest.
He urged the Federal Government to fulfill the agreement reached with the unions.
Akinwole said, “The present government is one of the most lawless governments Nigeria has ever seen. The government that doesn’t obey its own rule, the government that doesn’t obey its court, a government that is merciless in meting out draconian policies on the working class. Our people say no to all these treatments.”
Similarly, a former National Treasurer of ASUU, Prof Ademola Aremu criticized the government over what he described as unfair treatment of lecturers.
ASUU branches had planned a one-day nationwide protest over the payment of half salaries to lecturers by the Federal Government in October.
ASUU members at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), amongst others, have protested of late.
The union had on October 14, 2022, called off its eight-month strike after the National Industrial Court ordered the lecturers to resume.
The union, however, said the response of the government, especially its ‘pro-rata’ payment of October salaries of academics, portrayed them as casual workers.
Decentralize the varsity salary structure
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammad Haruna, yesterday advocated the decentralization of the university salary structure to enhance the educational sector.
Haruna made his views known during the unveiling of four books and the celebration of excellence by Aminu Ladan Sharehu, a professor of Public Administration at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU).
According to the NASENI boss, lecturers should negotiate on a case-by-case basis with the Governing Council.
He said lecturers should be paid by contact hours and remunerated according to the impact of their output.
Haruna said the Nigerian varsity system ought to grow to a level where lecturers will earn more than a vice-chancellor, or political office holders if their works attract funding.
He said the attitude of some teaching staff leaves much to be desired.
The NASENI boss said it was worrisome that universities are not solving any socio-economic challenges of the communities in their catchment areas.
He said universities have no linkages with industries and relevant research organizations.
Haruna said, “Let me advocate that: University Salary Structure and indeed of all tertiary institutions should be decentralized in such a way that lecturers are paid for productivity hours.
“Salaries to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the Governing Council and according to the capacity and performance of the lecturers and the universities.
“Yes, payment of living wages is important, but it does not make sense to pay the uniform salaries for lecturers in Damaturu, Birnin Kebbi, Lagos, and Port Harcourt where the cost of living is not the same.
“Lecturers should be paid by contact hours and remunerated according to the impact of their output. They can earn more than a vice chancellor, or political office holders if their work attracts funding from the private sector or other sources or if their impact attracts glory to their institutions.
“By these, I am advocating decentralized unions both ASUU and NASU are out of tune with the reality. Each institution to have its local union having a contract with the Governing Council.”
He said the attitude of some teaching staff leaves much to be desired.
He added: “As an academician myself, let me confess that the attitude of some teaching staff leaves much to be desired. Some lecturers are not even qualified or suitable to teach courses assigned to them. Most have no Professional Teaching Qualification, most have no fashion for teaching, and are in the profession only as a ‘lasting job alternative’.
“I have seen teachers who recycle the lesson notes given to them when they were students three to four decades earlier. How can the products of such a process be relevant in today’s dynamic and digital world?
“Lecturers are not accountable in most public institutions for absenteeism and for failure to adhere to the planned timetable and for non-execution of practical structures in their syllabus. Corruption and sexual harassment are generally unchecked leading to half-baked graduates.
“Our universities are not solving any socio-economic challenges of the communities in their catchment areas and have no linkages with industries and relevant research organizations. Most cannot attract any research fund because need-oriented research and market-driven research are not in their culture. I bet some lecturers can fail the very exam they are setting for their students.
“Lecturers of higher institutions no longer spend vacations in the industries to update their knowledge. What is disheartening is that graduation days or periods of many bright students are sometimes unreasonably delayed by lazy and non-supervised lecturers with negative consequences on the career progression of affected students, especially in ABU. The problems are many.”
He faulted the challenges facing ABU as a result of the recently called-off strike action.