ASUU – face to face with the government – a deja vu – Opinion – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The confrontation between the ASUU and the FGN over the non-implementation of a negotiated agreement with an integrated protocol of action has been going on for more than six months with no end in sight.
The recalcitrant position of the FGN with all the trappings of deceit and dishonesty is deja vu. In the process, the patience of parents, guardians, students and well-meaning stakeholders has been tested. Naturally, it prompted commentary, informed and armchair, on whether or not the ab initio strike was necessary.
Listening to such comments on radio and television, especially those that hold ASUU to task, can be frustrating for us as union members. Not the least of the vituperations of the Honorable Minister of Education and his advice to students to sue ASUU for the time wasted in the strike.
With regard to the financing of the revitalization of higher education institutions, certain specificities should be specified, in particular with regard to science programs and science-based courses in which there is a preponderant admission of students .
The expectation of parents and guardians of university wards is effective training, in theory and practice, in their various disciplines and to be deemed worthy, in learning and character, for the awarding of degrees respective in the fullness of time. There is an a priori justification for waiting, rooted in the equality of all things.
It is no exaggeration that many public universities have poorly equipped laboratories, workshops and other facilities that will lead to effective training and practical experience for students. These include appropriate reagents and other consumables without which there can be no effective laboratories. There were direct teaching and laboratory costs (DTLC) designed to meet these items as a percentage of the federal government grant overhead.
Over the years, there has been a gradual decline in the real value of overhead allocation to universities and, therefore, of DTLC. Thus, science-based disciplines – pure and applied sciences, engineering, medicine, agriculture, etc. were paralyzed, unable to deliver their programs effectively.
In light of the federal government’s free tuition policy, federal universities are oversubscribed with admitting students beyond their capacity and overcrowded facilities, resulting in labs and even overcrowded classrooms.
Where it is possible to carry out practical laboratory work, this is made difficult by epileptic electricity and the water supply. Anyone outside the university system, or even within the system, but having no activity with students in laboratory and workshop services cannot appreciate the challenges of insufficient government funding.
The federal government does not fund postgraduate programs, except for the provision of the Higher Education Tax Fund for training a limited number of eligible academic staff and for limited research. So, for the most part, postgraduate students in science programs have to provide for most of their needs, including generators for a stable power supply if needed.
Most often, they perform data analyzes outside the university at great expense and above all at the risk of misleading results in the absence of an effective framework in this regard. Where the cost of analyzes is prohibitive, and the student indigent, it raises a moral question as to substance to subject him to extensive replicated studies, as is the tradition to do, on the work.
Many indigent students had to be helped by professors in this regard. In all of this, the teacher, as an easy target, is blamed for the poor quality of student education, when in truth, the government is the main culprit. Obviously, it would be ethically irresponsible for academic staff to ignore these issues to the detriment of students and society as a whole.
There are as many private universities as there are public universities – state and federal. But private universities have no more than 5% of total enrollment as many Nigerians cannot afford the cost. Truth be told, there is poverty in Nigeria and many Nigerians want college education for their wards.
In many countries, public universities are funded by the government without prejudice to their right to charge tuition fees. Through this endowment and collaborative research and development with industry, universities are able to deliver functional and effective education at all levels. In this regard, universities are the engine of development and are linked to national development objectives.
It is obvious that this administration is resistant to education and the symbolism of a certain gift to Afghanistan, known for its aversion to the education of girls, betrays a destabilizing state of mind. The disposition of the Honorable Minister of Education to seek to undermine a resolution to the ongoing confrontation with ASUU is regrettable but not entirely unexpected for an administration that has many square pegs in round holes.
The question is: who is responsible for the protracted ASUU strike? A government that has shown no sincerity in its intentions by failing to follow an agreed protocol of action with the union is one that backfires by signaling ‘no work, no pay’ as a distraction from core issues awaiting resolution. ASUU cannot be hijacked by such stupid blackmail.
Certainly, Nigeria is plagued by multifaceted security challenges and Nigerians are not unaware of the actions and inactions of the Federal Government in this regard. We pray and hope that whoever is (are) the architect of the current state of anomie and crime against humanity will not be unscathed in the end. But beyond prayer, Nigerians must rise above primitive sentiments and, in exercise of their basic rights, choose men and women of character, ability and patriotism in the 2023 elections. to create a new order and promote national rebirth.
Professor Eromosele is the former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.