In a recent development that has sent shockwaves through the Nigerian academic community, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has raised serious concerns over the prolonged non-release of salaries spanning almost eight months for university lecturers which stems from the aftermath of the 2022 strike action.
The gravity of the situation was emphasized by ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, who conveyed the union’s distress through an official statement during the union’s National Executive Council meeting held at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State from August 19th to 20th, 2023.
Osodeke pointedly criticized the application of the anti-labour ‘No-Work-No-Pay’ policy, underscoring the fact that the strike had only suspended the teaching component of academics’ work. He highlighted the efforts of academics to compensate for the lost time and content under exceptionally challenging economic conditions, thanks to interventions from notable figures such as Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
ASUU, therefore, called upon the Nigerian government, particularly the administration of President Bola Tinubu, to expedite the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement.
Among other grievances, ASUU lamented the discredited IPPIS came under scrutiny for alleged involvement in employment racketeering, further weakening the university employment framework. ASUU voiced its rejection of these illicit appointments and stressed the importance of preserving the integrity of university appointments.
Accrding to a Channel TV report, the statement reads, “NEC was disturbed by reports of massive employment racketeering perpetuated by operators of the discredited IPPIS, including scandalous revelations at the recent sittings of House of Representatives Probe Panel on IPPIS. “NEC observed that the unsavoury trend has eroded university employment tradition in violation of the provisions of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003, and Guidelines for Appointments and Promotions of individual universities. ASUU rejects all illegal appointments sponsored by the IPPIS and its agents in Nigerian public universities.
Another point of concern was the erosion of university autonomy, as evidenced by the dissolution of Governing Councils which saw ASUU called for the reversal of this trend, stating that such actions violate both legal statutes and university operations.
“NEC observed with dismay the Government’s moves to further erode the autonomy of universities as contained in the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions Act in respect of the dissolution of Councils. ASUU had cause to protest to the immediate past Federal administration over the same matter in 2015, and the decision was accordingly reversed. “Dissolution of Governing Councils of federal and state universities before they serve their full terms does not only violate extant laws on university autonomy, but it also adversely impacts operations of the universities. NEC therefore calls for the reversal of the recent dissolution of councils of federal universities to ensure their smooth operations and stability.”
The union also addressed the controversial Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS), expressing its intention to advocate against its imposition on Nigerian universities. Additionally, ASUU bemoaned the exodus of experienced academics from public universities due to unfavorable working and living conditions.
“NEC reviewed the strenuous efforts of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to impose the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS) on Nigerian universities, despite well-founded criticisms and rejection by members of university senates and academic associations. NEC subsequently directed the leadership of ASUU to pursue the Union’s rejection of CCMAS to its logical conclusion.”
Lastly, ASUU issued a stark call to the government to reject neo-liberal policies that have exacerbated the hardships faced by academics and the working class and emphasized the importance of prioritizing human development through robust funding of education and health sectors, independent of external influences.
“The Federal Government must immediately develop local capacities in the up and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry as well as renovate the old refineries and construct new ones because of their multiplier effects on the entire economy and the nation.”