…. Laments Current State of Varsities
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has reacted to the comments from President Muhamnadu Buhari that “enough is enough” of the ongoing 5-month industrial action by the university teachers.
ASUU expressly replied that enough can’t be enough until the Buhari-led administration repositions the public university sector.
Buhari had called on the striking varsity teachers to sheathe their sword and return to the classrooms urging the union to “ sympathize with the people on the prolonged strike.”
The president had spoken while receiving in audience some governors and legislators elected on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform as well as other political leaders at his residence in Daura, Katsina state Monday.
“Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake,” the president had said.
Responding to the president’s challenge, the university teachers said enough can’t be enough “until the president moves to reposition the decaying public university education in the country.”
They berated Buhari for not acting presidentially by addressing the issues leading to the strike.
The varsity teacher’s position was contained in a statement by the Lagos zone of the union and signed by its Coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya.
The union said: “For the records Mr. President, enough will not be enough in the struggle to reposition the public university education in Nigeria under this present administration and beyond as long as the Nigerian public universities are reduced to glorified secondary schools for the production of poor quality and globally uncompetitive, rejected and unemployable graduates; Nigerian academics remain one of the poorest paid scholars not only in Africa but the world; our universities are unattractive to students and scholars from across the globe; universities in the countries are made constituency projects and mushroomed for political exigencies; Nigerian universities, no thanks to IPPIS are run as government parastatals; Nigerian universities are seen as profit- centres where government and its functionaries can obtain money to fund its excessive gastronomical greed.”
They blamed the government as the cause of the prolonged strike which has lasted almost five months.
Left to ASUU, Odukoya said, the strike shouldn’t have lasted over a week as all negotiations had been completed and were only awaiting signing and implementation.
“For ASUU, this strike action should not have lasted beyond the first week after it was declared because the issues at stake were neither new nor do they require rocket science to resolve given that there had been MOUs and MOAs as well as a duly renegotiated ASUU-FGN Agreement completed way back 13th May 2020 before your (President Buhari’s) government which you and your administration neglected and refused to implement and sign,” it said.
While describing Buhari’s comments as propaganda to set the people against the union, the statement said the fact that other unions in other tertiary institutions were also on strike for similar reasons “proved the complicity of the government in the neglect facing public tertiary institutions.”
The statement also said government attempted to “comprehensively destroy public university education” in the country.
ASUU further said: “The various issues confronting our nation, that of the ongoing strike in the nation’s public universities will not be solved by presidential lamentations but by executive actions induced by rare patriotism and nationalism.
“Therefore Mr. President, saying that enough is enough is mere wishful thinking and will not resolve the present decadence in our universities nor stop the present struggle to reposition our public universities.”
But the union noted that it will continue to fight against the proliferation of universities, which it said the government has turned into “constituency projects for political contingencies.”
The statement also said Nigerian public universities had been turned into a “glorified secondary school” where low-quality graduates were churned out, claiming Nigerian academics were among the poorest all over the world.