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Opinion

My thoughts on ASUU Strike: Before we start experiencing mass suicide, by Prof Lanre Olaniyan

My thinking is that everyone must be ready to shift. Apparently government has not shifted. Let’s look at the issues for strike.

ASUU said there is corruption in universities, and ask government to send visitation panel to investigate them all including corrupt activities in Universities in line with University Act that this must be done every 5 years. It took the 2020 strike before government set up the Committee. Till date government is yet to release its findings on the visits (Note that government is in charge of funds through Governing Council and contracts). Government should release the report so that there must be consequences for actions. Government’s position is that they are still working on it and will release the report later. Minister Adamu asked what universities are doing with IGR. But the IGR are within purview of government appointed Council which is supposed to be scrutinized by visitation panel. Government should perform its function and not buck-pass.

ASUU said, IPPIS is flawed and not adequate for universities. Government eventually agreed to test IPPIS. According to Minister Pantami, IPPIS is filled with huge errors and technical inefficiencies and failed integrity test. He further insinuated that funds were being siphoned from government through IPPIS. Minister Adamu said UTAS performed better than IPPIS. Minister Pantami also said that IPPIS was introduced against the prescriptions of the laws of the land. Resolution. Govt insisted that it will continue to use IPPIS despite these shortcomings. Even with the shortcomings, nobody should dictate to government. PRIDE.

ASUU complained about revitalisation funds for the University system. Government said they would put it in 2023 budget. Although govt is preparing supplementary budget for 2022, University revitalisation funds are not found worthy to be included.

Staff are owed Earned Academic Allowances for 8 years now. I am not sure any sector of public service was owed for that long. Government said that they will put it in 2023 budget and start disbursement by June (when they must have left).

Asuu said salaries should be increased. Despite the fact that there was an agreement between ASUU and government committee last June, Government said it can only increase salaries of a fresh PhD by 30,000 to about 149,000 naira monthly and the highest paid Professor by 60,000 naira to 476,000 naira only. A new professor will still earn below 400,000 naira monthly. In fact the issue that University lecturers earn less than Polytechnic and Colleges of Education lecturers were not addressed. Results indicate that University lecturers will continue to earn less than Poly and COE lecturers.

Hence, none of the request for going on strike had been met. Government came to last Tuesday’s meeting with its decision and said that it was not open for discussion. ASUU should “take it or leave it”.

It should be noted that COE lecturers received their salaries when they went on strike. Staff of Research institutes had been on strike for close to one year, their salaries have not been stopped. Even with the university system, only lecturers salaries were initially stopped.

My position

ASUU should purge itself of looking for other people’s welfare and focus only on its salaries.

ASUU, understand what the laws, policies and conditions of service said you should do and do it. You don’t have to go beyond them.

ASUU members should behave like some other professionals such as Petroleum refineries and even doctors and focus on their own welfare. Petroleum refineries have not worked in years but their staff still collect salaries. Don’t force the system to work well if there is nothing to work with. No doctor will go to the theatre for operation if there is no light. If there is no light, and no alternative, do only what can be done. You don’t have to go the extra mile. Stay in your office and enjoy your salary. If there is nothing to work with, go to office and take tea and talk. If the office is too hot, stay in the corridor or go and sit under a tree. Universities such as UI is blessed with many trees. Leave the system to collapse if it should. Nothing concerns you there.

As a Lecturer, I have turned to janitor because university gates and classroom doors were locked and my HOD believes exam must continue. I have carried desktop on my head to the car and home since laptops were not provided by the university for my use. ASUU members have turned to messengers dispatching memos when other unions are on strike. They have turned to clerical officers, maintenance officers etc., to ensure things must work. I am not sure other professions go on strike for the working facilities to be in shape. ASUU should follow this. If classroom doors are locked. Go back home. If Exam department does not work stay in your office, grade your scripts and pass it forward etc.

ASUU members should not struggle for their universities to get accreditation. If accreditation is withdrawn, go to your office and sit down. Government should do the needful. It does not concern you. Many are not aware that lecturers sometimes contribute money to buy equipment for their department to pass accreditation. This should stop.

Nobody in the university get a single promotion for teaching. Good teachers do not get promoted, only good researchers do. You don’t have to teach well since your progression does not depend on it.
Focus on your research as this is what your condition of service says. ASUU members, please develop your grant-seeking and Research delivery capacity and skills. If government believes that students should be taught well, let them change the conditions of service so that only teaching is used for promotion.

Register an NGO to achieve your research objective and obtain your grants. In many instances, research grants that go through the university system goes through TSA (another illegally deployed platform for the University system which Minister Pantami also said failed technical efficiency and integrity tests). Direct your research grants to your NGO if you don’t want to have mental issues and hypertension.
Each lecturer is expected to teach not more than 6 courses, ASUU should insist on this. If there are no lecturers to teach other courses, stay within what the law says you should teach. If nobody graduates, its none of your business. Stay within what the policy says.

The life of every lecturer matters. Do not work yourself to death. Be mindful of your health. The system does not warrant you destroying your mental and physical health.

Nobody is talking about children of lecturers who are students, spouses of lecturers who are students or lecturers who are themselves PhD students. Do we really believe that lecturers’ lives matter? Do the lives of lecturers dependents matter?

ASUU members, please focus on your research and remove your emotions from the work. Do only what the law and policy states since this is the perception of everyone.

If you are not happy with the university system find a job in an international agency or private sector. Determine your happiness and progression. Don’t let government destroy your happiness. Refuse to continue to be a slave.

Finally, if you have the wherewithal, send your child to a private universities, we are already singing “nunc dimitis” for government owned universities. We will get there with the present attitudes of everyone
We can agree to quote Trade Dispute Act not to pay outstanding salary of March to date, but IPPIS was deployed breaking the Communications and ICT Act of 2005. Government insists that it will not respect the details of the Act. ASUU can go to hell.

Government can also break the University Miscellaneous Act of 2003 where conditions of service are explicitly stated.

Government can further break other University Acts and laws of the land on Visitation panel institution and reporting.

As for me, I am wondering if I should continue to believe in this system. Can I ask my children to trust the system. Can u trust a government who believes that some laws are sacrosanct and some should be broken with impunity.

Do I really want to go on strike. If I am emotional about university system, maybe my answer will be YES. If i remove the emotions and focus on my welfare only, maybe my answer will be NO. Let ASUU remove emotions from our duties and I believe things will be better. ASUU members, pls make sure you sustain your physical, emotional and mental health. Your life matters for your loved ones. It does not matter to Nigerian government Should ASUU continue to fight for the University system? Maybe yes. Maybe no, depending on your belief.

Anyway, what do I know?

At least I know what I want… The story continues

Lanre Olaniyan

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