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On ASUU Strike Vs N6.1 Billion National Assembly Vehicles

August 15
10:58:02 2017
The academic staff union of universities (ASUU) started an indefinite strike action to press for their demands especially the implementation of 2013 ASUU-FG agreement. At the time when the education sector is begging for urgent attention and increase funding, the national assembly procured over N6.1 billion cars for their members
The academic staff union of universities (ASUU) started an indefinite strike action to press for their demands especially the implementation of 2013 ASUU-FG agreement. At the time when the education sector is begging for urgent attention and increase funding, the national assembly procured over N6.1 billion cars for their members.

A professor with 5 year’s professorial experience earn less than N400,000 including allowances per month while a member of the house of representative received N10 million per month including allowances. Please where is the justification? Each of the vehicle cost over N17 million more than 44 months (almost 4 years) salary of a professor in Nigerian university. A professor in Nigeria supposed to earn at least N15 million per month. This will maintain our best brain and attract those abroad to come back to Nigeria for lecturing job, as such, stop brain drain to certain extend. Most probably, the N6.1 billion national assembly cars purchased prompted the ASUU strike.

Any country that doesn’t spend heavily on research, that country should forget about development. University of Malaya in Malaysia have an annual research budget of over N150 billion while University of Sao Paolo in Brazil get allocation of $2.2 billion annually for research. In Nigeria, TETfund allocate N3 billion for national research in the last 5 years for all universities, colleges of education and polytechnics in the country.

A member of the house of reps., Abdulrazak Namdas, chairman house of reps. committee on media and public affairs said that the national assembly procured the N6.1 billion vehicles in national interest. Presently, higher education institutions (universities, colleges of education and polytechnics) in Nigeria don’t get their complete salary allocation from FG. The allocations come with shortfalls leaving the institutions to source for money elsewhere to make up the shortfalls before paying complete salary. Other institutions pay the salaries with the shortfalls as it comes, likely because they don’t have where to fall back. This phenomenon started February 2017 up to date, no sign of ending shortfalls in sight. Though, I read in a newspaper that the government has released N40 billion for settling salary arrears, staff entitlement, shortfalls, etc own by all federal government workers since 2012. The payment will be in trenches because N40 billion is not sufficient to settled the outstanding debt.

The recession we are currently facing in Nigeria seems to depends on the sector, there are sectors that experience it while others don’t experience the recession. If not how can education sector be struggling to pay salary while national assembly are busy buying over N6.1 billion cars? Procuring cars to national assembly members has been settled during the era of former president Olusegun Obasanjo through monetization. The monetization involved official cars for the national assembly members, as such, government can’t buy cars to the legislators. Surprisingly, few years after the implementation of monetization we started hearing about official cars for national assembly members again. Now that the ASUU are on strike some see the strike action as uncalled for because is too confrontational while others argued that Nigeria government only understand the language of strike. I am one of the proponent of strike action because the government normally give attention and solve some lingering issues when there is a strike action. At the same time, I always feel bad because of the losses incurred by strike action.

The ASUU strikes has yield results in the past, the present highly celebrated TETFund is a product of ASUU strikes, the little pay increased to tertiary institutions is also a product of ASUU strikes, among many others. Though, it comes with losses but the advantage overweight’s the disadvantage. This is the right time for the other sister unions like the COEASU and ASUP to join the strike action to press the implementation of their lingering issues with the FG. This may force the government to solve the problems once and for all.

With this kind of attitude towards lecturer’s motivation in our institutions, it will be very difficult or even impossible for the government to stop brain drain in our institutions. If the government continue to pay lipstick services to the education sector, definitely, developing Nigeria to the level of competing with the western world or Asia will be a mirage. Many of our best brains are leaving the country while some of the best brains don’t return back to Nigeria after their studies abroad due to inadequate lecturers motivation and low funding in the education sector.

There was a time I tried to convince some of our best brain in computer science working in other countries to come back home and pick up lecturing job, most of them laugh and asked me how much is the salary? That was where the convincing efforts finished. What is happening to our education sector require the declaration of total state of emergency.

Dr. Haruna Chiroma
writes from Federal college of education Gombe, Nigeria

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