The federal government has been forewarned by THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) not to heed prescriptions that would endanger the impasse of its past sessions with the government to resolve its requests.
Moreover, it stated that the “Government’s refusal to pay for the strike would hurt students more and be disruptive of our public universities which government’s insensitivity has thrown into avoidable crisis.”
The union criticized numerous viewpoints and articles about the seven-month strike, claiming many of the authors displayed what it called a “lack of understanding of the core issues.”
“While we concede that some of the opinions stem from genuine concern for a resolution of the impasse, some others are clearly based on ignorance and/or mischief. ASUU would continue to set the records straight and shed light on issues in its patriotic struggle to save our university system from those bent on ruining it,” the union said in a statement, Monday, by Prof. Ade Adejumo, Converner of its newly constituted Rapid Response Committee.
The union specifically criticized the publication of a Nigerian living in the US named Dr. Yemi Adebowale, who it claimed supported the federal government’s decision to implement its “No Work, No Pay” policy against it after the strike. The union claimed the writer lacked knowledge of how the Nigerian university system operated to support the government in his writing.
It was mentioned that, in contrast to other government work, a lecturer’s duties extend beyond classroom instruction”While teaching is on hold during the pendency of a strike, research work goes on unimpeded.”
“The barrage of opinions on traditional and social media on the seven-month-long strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is hardly surprising since it is an important issue touching the lives of many Nigerians, students, parents, and many other Nigerians.
“That it is also an emotional issue is evident from the vitriol in many of the opinions or publications on the matter, many of which demonstrate a lack of understanding of the core issues.
“While we concede that some of the opinions stem from genuine concern for a resolution of the impasse, some others are clearly based on ignorance and/or mischief. ASUU would continue to set the records straight and shed light on issues in its patriotic struggle to save our university system from those bent on ruining it,” the statement read.
On the “No Work, No Pay” issue, the committee said:” It is sad and amazing how some people take over and violate our public space pretending to be experts on issues that they know next to nothing about, and about which they have regrettably refused or are incapable to learn about”, adding:” All the same, some education is not out of place to upscale the ignorance of such commentators in this respect.”
“For example, contrary to Yemi Adebowale’s uninformed view, the work of a lecturer goes beyond teaching students. In fact, although the most visible, teaching is the simplest of a lecturer’s job. This perhaps explains why it carries a mere 10 percent in the consideration of a lecturer’s promotion, where it is scored at all. Furthermore, in academia, good teaching is impossible without good research. Excellent and quality research are sine qua non for good teaching. While teaching is on hold during the pendency of a strike, research work goes on unimpeded.
“Added to this is the third leg of a lecturer’s preoccupation – community development – which is, application of research based-knowledge within and beyond the universities.
This explains why contrary to conventional employment practices as it concerns letter of employment, no resumption and closing time are contained in the employment letters of academics. We work 24/7 and 365 days a year, strike or no strike.
“Sadly, Yemi’s prejudice and hatred for lecturers made him not to see the illogicality and danger in the government’s NO work, No Pay” mantra, as well as its harmful implications for the students he pretends to love,”the committee further said.
According to the committee,”Government’s refusal to pay for the strike would hurt students more and be disruptive of our public universities which government’s insensitivity has thrown into avoidable crisis.”
” If government refuses to pay for the strike period, it is simply a directive by government that the make-up work that would otherwise be done by lecturers to cover the time lost for strike at great personal sacrifices and self-denial in the interest of our students, should not be done.
“In other words, if government will not pay for work it erroneously said was not done, our members in the same token are being told by government not to do works government is unwilling to pay for,”it added.
The committee, while noting that,”It is surprising that a lot of commentators pretend not to be aware that that this strike was forced on our Union by government’s irresponsibility and insensitivity”, explained that:”Our Union signed three MoAs with this government in 2017, 2019 and 2020.”
” Additionally, President Muhammadu Buhari, set-up a committee under the chairmanship of his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, but nothing came out of it. The petty rivalry and buck-passing of the Ministers of Labour and Education which combined to prolong this strike are also in the public domain.
” The question many Nigerians are refusing to ask is why government would waste scarce public funds setting up committees to negotiate with ASUU only to reject their recommendations,”it said.
Noting that:”The Profs Muzaliu Jibril and Nimi Briggs renegotiation committees are clear examples”, the Rapid Response Committee of ASUU alleged that,”Government dumped their reports and resorted to arbitrary imposition of salary award on our Union in violation of the practice of Collective Bargaining Agreement between us established since 1981 and backed by laws.”
“Thanks to Prof. Nimi Briggs Committee for their courage in openly telling Nigerians that what they negotiated with our Union was based on continuous consultations and the consent of their principal, the Federal Government,”it said.
The statement read further:”The likes of Yemi deliberately ignore the truth as his jaundiced write-up shows. While Yemi quoted and insisted on the law that he did not understand on the supposedly no work no pay, he or she is too ignorant or not bothered due to an inherent slavish mentality to know that the rejection of the miserable award from our Aso Rock Leviathan by ASUU is informed not only by Nigerian laws but global best practices which favours Collective Bargaining Agreement between employers and employees even in the private sector.
“Had the government done the needful and renegotiated the FG-ASUU Agreement in 2012 as provided and kept to the timelines for the release of funds for revitalization of public universities, there would have been no strike.
” It is also pertinent to note that ASUU members as a collective developed the UTAS which government has finally confirmed is far better than the fraudulent and corruption-prone IPPIS which it imposed on the Federal Universities on which it has wasted and is still wasting public funds at no cost to the government during this strike. That is a good example of community development which is the third layer of our work as lecturers.
From the foregoing therefore, there is no doubt that it is the government and its functionaries that are, and must be, squarely held responsible for the strike and protracting it. Those genuinely interested in a quick resolution of this impasse would do well to avoid prescriptions capable of further prolonging the deadlock.”
The committee said,”The public should understand that the interest of students and parents have been the hallmark of ASUU’s struggle right from inception and will continue to be so because we are parents as well as teachers too in our institutions.”
“Many of our members are also students in our universities. There are some other issues which are key to ASUU’s principled struggle.
“Firstly, most Nigerian leaders benefited from the public universities when they were well funded with scholarships, free meals, free accommodation, stipend and high quality facilities for learning. All these are stories for the gods as these privileges no longer exist in our universities today. To this, ASUU says NO. You cannot be a beneficiary of a sound system and want to destroy the system after you.
” The present day students must benefit the way you benefited. To do otherwise, will amount to selfishness and wickedness.
Secondly, the selfishness of our leaders has grown to the point of utter public deceit.
“They proliferate and promote private universities for their friends and associates to the peril of public universities. At the same time, many of them abandon the private universities and send their children to foreign institutions. In the interest of our students, ASUU says NO to this because it is repugnant to equity, natural justice, and good conscience.
“Thirdly, all the private universities in Nigeria, without exception are profit making ventures. Currently, tuition fees in Nigeria public universities in the neighborhood of #30,000 to #40,000 naira per session as against the humongous #1.5m to #2m charged by these private universities per session. It then looks as if the owners of private universities are in partnership with the political leaders to share their profits while the latter demand the leaders to suffocate public universities to force students to their institutions.
“It needs be known that more that 50% parents of public university students struggle to pay this little fee for their children, how much more paying the fees of private universities which government wants to force them to. In the interest of both parents and students, ASUU says NO, it should not happen,”the committee said.
The union defended the engagement of members in other universities, saying they were highly needed given that “thousands of Nigerian graduates will not have the opportunity to see Professors and other senior academics to talk to them in their classrooms from year one to final year”, “as the highest rank of lecturers in most of these universities they proliferate is Lecturer Il.”
The statement further read: “If lecturers do not visit or work in other universities, thousands of Nigerian graduates will not have the opportunity to see Professors and other senior academics to talk to them in their classrooms from year one to final year.
“This means that Nigeria will continue to produce educated illiterates. This is so as the highest rank of lecturers in most of these universities they proliferate is Lecturer Il.
“In light of the foregoing, the public is urged to disregard Yemi Adebowale’s misguided, ill-informed and shallow article which exhibits his poor knowledge of ASUU and the Nigerian university system having lived the greater part of his life in the United States and losing touch with the realities of university education in Nigeria.”