In a bid to change the fortunes of about 50 million illiterates in Nigeria, the Nigerian government has reiterated its commitment to the ten pillars of reform of the education sector.
The Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, shared his vision with Channels Television correspondent, Gbenga Ashiru, on an edition of Question Time.
He explained that the mandate of the ‘ten pillars of the education’ road-map involves returning about 11.5 million out-of-school children to the classrooms.
“The road-map for education, which we placed before the National Council of Education is based on ten pillars and these pillars are the most important areas.
“The first is out-of-school children. You know Nigeria leads the world in having the highest number of children who are out of school – 11.5 million.
“After it we look at basic education, which is an area that has fallen on bad times and needs to be revamped.
“We also have vocation education and training. If Nigeria wishes to develop and compete with the rest of the world, we need to do something about our technical education.
“We have put activities in place that would make Nigeria compete fully with the rest of the world.
“Then there is development in ICT, the world is going computer and Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind. We intend to introduce computer technology in our classes.
“There is also the question of teacher education, this is the most important to me. “We need to develop teachers, we need to make them qualify, even in our tertiary institutions there are a dearth of teachers and we need to develop more”.
JAMB Needs To Sit Up
The Education Minister also commented on the cancellation of the post-UTME examination. He maintained that it is the statutory responsibility of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board.
According to the Minister, “JAMB was set up to do the test that would determine the admission and I am not defending JAMB, I think there are so many problems. What we need is not to create another examination but to make JAMB to sit up.
There have been complaints from candidates on being listed for a different course from the one registered for, and our correspondent sought to know how the Minister intends to fix these irregularities.
He argued that this particular issue had stopped: “I think that is something that is probably a thing of the past. A lot of restructuring is currently going on in JAMB.”
He added that “both the test that they (JAMB) administer and the result that they give and which university will determine the admission of students will be different from now on”.
Watch the full interview with the Minister of Education on Channels Television current affairs programme, Question Time.
Vice Chancellor of the Redeemers University (RUN) Ede in Osun state, Prof Debo Adeyewa, on Monday called on the Federal Government to support private universities by providing incentives that would aid the acceleration of research and development.
Professor Adeyewa said this at the Pre-Convocation Press Briefing on the activities of the institution’s 8th convocation ceremony slated for September 8, 2016 in Ede, Osun State.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that the 2016 graduating set, christened “The Chosen Generation” had the largest set so far in the history of RUN with about 619 persons graduating.
Of the 619, 25 graduated with First Class honours (4.0%), 207 had Second Class Upper Division (33.4 %) while 290 graduated with Second Class Lower Division (46.8%). Some 97 others (15.7 %) fall into the third class.
He further said ‘The Chosen Generation’ is unique for being the first to register online and to use computer based testing procedure for the Post -UTME Screening.
“Also, scripturally the number eight signifies new beginning. As the eighth set of matriculating students in RUN, the set was therefore a pointer to a new beginning for the University,” he said.
Professor Adeyewa added that with Redeemers University, the possibilities of excellence were endless just as over a decade of the university’s existence had demonstrated.
“With the contribution of private universities to the growth and wellbeing of our dear country, there is a need for government to provide incentives, single digit interest loans and access to funds that would aid the acceleration of research and development.
“This way Government would be discouraging education tourism that has helped institutions overseas to flourish with billions of dollars frittered away each year at the expense of burgeoning home institutions,” he said.
He went on to say “come Thursday, September 8, 2016, the university will be achieving another milestone as it will be graduating her first set of doctoral students.
“Furthermore, General Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd) will be installed as the second chancellor of the university to succeed Emeritus Professor Teenage Tamuno, the pioneer chancellor, who passed on over a year ago.”
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has threatened to embark on another round of industrial action should the federal government continue to ignore the agreement it reached with the union since 2012.
Speaking with journalists in Kaduna during a capacity building workshop for members of the union, ASUP President, Usman Dutse, lamented that several agreements the union and the federal government signed in 2012 were yet to be implemented.
He listed the agreements to include, non-implementation of CONTISS, poor state of polytechnics, under-funding of the sector, dichotomy between HND and bachelors’ degree holders and non-implementation of NEEDS assessment report on polytechnics, among others.
He noted that having given the present administration more than one year to settle down and address their demands, it seemed that the government is not serious in addressing the matter.
On his part, the Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, appealed to the union to review its demands in the light of the current economic situation.
He also called for more funding of the polytechnic sector which he said is key to the technical and vocational advancement of the country.
The workshop themed “Administering Trade Unions in a Receding Economy” is aimed at sensitizing officials of ASUP across the country on how to pilot the affairs of the union on the various institutions with regards to the dwindling fortunes of the national economy and how they can collaborate with government to address some of the challenges in the sector.
Notwithstanding the situation, the polytechnic lecturers noted that a situation whereby many state-owned institutions owe their workers over seven months’ salaries and other allowances would no longer be acceptable.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mohammed Yusuf, told the lecturers that the idea of shutting down campuses to press home their demands does not go well for the education sector.
Rather, he called for an effective synergy between the union and chief executives of institutions to address their demands.
Although the polytechnic lecturers say they are aware of the fact that the present government came to power about one year ago, but then they are of the believe that government is a continuum.
The issues between government and ASUP have lingered for years.
The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has said that the best gift that can be given to any child is providing them with free education that will help them attain maximum height in their desired endeavours.
The Governor said this during the 7th convocation ceremony of the Imo State University in Owerri the Imo State capital.
He said that the Imo State government remains committed to the free education programme which has benefitted many families.
The Governor urged Nigerian universities to invest more in vocational and skill acquisition programmes that will produce graduates that will be employers of labour rather than job seekers.
The Governor rewarded the overall best graduating student, Chigozie Ekenze from the Optometry Department with the sum of two million naira, a scholarship abroad for post graduate studies and an instant appointment as a lecturer in the Imo State University.
Officials of the Malala Foundation have decried Nigeria’s ranking as one of the countries with the worst figure of out-of-school children in the world.
The officials expressed their views during the visit of Pakistan girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafsai, to the Minister of Education in Abuja.
Members of the foundation, officials from the United Nations and the Department for State Services were on a fact-finding mission to the Ministry of Education as part of activities to mark the Malala Day in Abuja.
The team questioned the Federal Government’s strategies on education and sought to know why it was yet to achieve significant success in tackling the challenge of access to education and enrolment of the 10.5 million out-of-school children in the country.
The Minister of State was swift to reel out the various projects by the Federal Government to support the states to enrol the millions of out-of-school children across the country but the team appeared unimpressed.
The Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, then explained that the Federal Government was not to blame for the challenge but the states. He revealed that 139 billion naira had already been given to states to improve support.
He, however, promised that the Government would ensure an additional enrolment of at least 2 million children by 2015.
The Malala Foundation officials advised the Federal Government to co-operate better with the states to alleviate the crisis.
The group’s visit to Nigeria takes place almost three months after the abduction of the Chibok girls on April 14.
The renewed pledge by the Government to up the enrolment figures is one Nigerians hope would reduce the education crisis in the country.
The Student Union Government Presidents of two Lagos based polytechnics, YABATECH and LASPOTECH, Babajide Salvado and Abdulkareem Yusuf, have explained why the students are in support of the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
The student leaders were guests on Channels Television youth programme, Rubbin’ Minds, where they explained that majority of the points for which their lecturers are agitating affect the students directly.
Mr Salvado of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) decried the imbalance in the manner in which the Nigerian Government and the media gave more attention to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during their 5-month strike in 2013, failing to give same to the Polytechnic lecturers since their struggles started in January 2014.
He also laid emphasis on the bureaucratic bottlenecks that had bedevilled the growth and development of polytechnic education for many years.
He noted that the students belief that the Polytechnic lecturers’ demands were genuine. Although he admitted that emphasis had been laid on the lecturers’ monetary demands as it concerns the payment of their arrears.
The dichotomy between the Polytechnics and the universities also came to the fore as the students insisted that there should be no reason for graduates from polytechnics and colleges of education to be treated as inferior to their counterparts from the universities.
There had been arguments in many quarters that the entry requirements of students into the universities have always been higher than what obtains in the other institutions with lower cut-off marks and as such their products could not be at par.
The student leaders unanimously condemned the view. Yusuf claimed that many Polytechnic students scored as high as the university cut-off marks and still were not offered admission into a university due to factors beyond them. Citing his school, the Lagos State Polytechnic as example, he noted that Nigerian polytechnics can boast of many intelligent products who would comfortably compete with university graduates.
Salvado also added that the students were ready to have the cut-off mark for all tertiary institutions set at parity if the discrepancies would be the basis for considering polytechnics as inferior to universities, as he was also sure that they had the technical edge in their competencies.
The Student Union Government President of the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Olusola Ogunnowo, whose lecturers under the aegis of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, have also been part of the industrial action, added that the reforms in the education sector have shown that being a teacher would no more be seen as an alternative career.
He revealed that many of his colleagues were in school not as a way out of having failed to make it into other institutions but as a form of fulfilment of their dreams to be teachers. He added that there were graduates of universities who were back in their schools in order to get certification for their dream to become lecturers, a process he claimed showed the seriousness and importance of the Colleges of Education.
The over 6 months old strike had been experiencing challenges with some schools in different parts of the country pulling out; a development that the student leaders condemned. They claimed that the disunity among the ASUP and COEASU was a product of selfishness and pursuit of personal interests.
Salvado also had tough words for the national leadership of the National Association Nigerian Students (NANS) for having failed to make a statement in solidarity with the plight of the students and their lecturers in the polytechnics and colleges of education.
He noted that the President of the NANS had been at the National Conference supposedly to represent the youth and there has been no mention of how to develop Nigerian education since the conference started.
They called on the Nigerian Government to change its attitude towards education, especially the polytechnics and colleges of education.
Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, believes that education has to be the business of everybody, as it is an investment rather than just a business.
While canvassing for a partnership between the Government and the private sector towards moving the Nigerian education sector forward, she noted that there were different levels of enormous returns that could be earned from investing in education.
Dr Ezekwesili recalled her time as the Minister of education, revealing how bad the state of the system was within the federal ministry. She referred to her project as “Crisis”, stating that quite early she “knew there was no way Government could solve the problem (alone).”
Speaking passionately on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily live from Abuja, venue of the Nigerian Economic Summit, which had been focusing on developing the Nigerian education sector, Dr Ezekwesili said “Education is a system” and it should not be handled like an element of politics but a major part of nation building.
While speaking about the current state of the sector in comparison to her time as Minister, she said that her investigations revealed that the results in the sector were nothing to smile about, emphasizing that the country’s investment had not produced the result commensurate with it.
She admitted, “We were not in a good place when I was there, and you reflect to 7 years after and it’s declined even further. Do we need any more indicators to discuss these issues?”
Speaking about the way forward, Dr Ezekwesili said that there was need to keep a track of what the Nigerian youths were doing with an emphasis on the available academic facilities in the country. She explained that this involved asking what students who are not in the universities or polytechnics were doing with their lives and creating alternatives to the existing academic system the country operates.
She spoke about the establishment of the Vocational Enterprise Institution and Innovation Enterprise Institution. These according to her, are schools set up mainly to train people with skills to drive innovation and ideas as the new paradigm in Nigerian education.
She said that the rationale behind this was to build a partnership that has the authority of industry practitioners as a means to earn the trust of Nigerian youths. She also said that this was to drive the value of innovation, productivity and self-employment.
In further describing how these would work, she revealed that celebrity filmmakers and veteran actresses, Hilda Dokubo and Joke Silva had been accredited to set up such Innovation Enterprise Institutions in their fields, because of the belief that they would be better trusted to offer practical knowledge and real inspiration in their schools rather than the usual government establishments.
She explained that a complete education package should be a combination of the ‘Mechanical’, which is about the skilled knowledge; the ‘Affective’ which entails the moral values; and the Cognitive, which refers to the quality of reasoning that should be deposited in students by the teachers.
The quality of teachers in Nigerian schools then came to the fore as she spoke about the need to retrain the teachers at a shared cost between the government and the private sector. She decried the presence of Grade 2 teachers still in the system without any upgrade in their knowledge as ridiculous in the current age, noting that many kids now knew better than their teachers.
She, however, said that this should be an initiative of the government. Emphasizing such regulatory part of the sector as being solely a role of the government, she said that the investment intervention would be more productive when the system had been made receptive to development.
Dr Ezekwesili also cited the quality of policy driven discussions that the young anchors of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily engage in as one of the key features that would add value to the development of Nigerian education. While commending the team, she admitted that the country had not had this high level of policy driven debates for a very long time, a situation she believed had contributed to the decline.
She also urged the current government to wake up to the situation, as she said that the government was missing out on an important part of its role.
Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, has presented a cheque of over 1.2 billion Naira to pensioners in his state.
Held at the Women Development Centre, Awka, the event which also coincided with the official launch of the State Education Programme Implementation Investment Project, SEPIP, by the World Bank had several pensioners in attendance.
Speaking to the audience, the State Commissioner for Local Government shared the Government’s operations towards delivering the dividends of democracy to the people.
Governor Peter Obi then presented a cheque of 1,244,137,696.83 Naira to the pensioners and an additional cheque to 150 public and private schools for infrastructural upgrade in the State Education Programme Implementation Investment Project, SEPIP.
The World Bank project targets the promotion of quality education especially in the core subjects like sciences and mathematics. The World Bank Country Director after being taken on a project inspection tour spoke more about the essence of the project.
“We need people who are good mathematicians, we need people who can do Computer Science, we need people who can read English, because it is a common language that is used everywhere. So in these critical subjects, we want to see that you are the best.”
The World Bank expressed optimism that the Anambra State Government’s approach of giving funds directly to the schools will promote accountability by entrusting the school management with the responsibility of delivering on targeted goals.
Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi has said quality education is one legacy he would be leaving behind as governor of the state.
Speaking in Awka, the state capital after presenting more buses to schools in the state, the Governor made it clear that no society can move forward without quality education and to buttress his point, the governor has so far released 230 buses to schools in the past few months.
In his speech, the Governor said “this is just one of the promises. Those who are not receiving here today, be rest assured that you will get it.”
The Governor asked traditional leaders and union leaders in the state to maintain effective supervision of school projects in their areas. He also revealed that the State Government has set aside salaries for 5,000 teachers to be employed into various schools across the state until December 2015.
The State Commissioner for Education, Uju Okeke said the buses will tackle the challenges of transportation and afford easy mobility for the students.
Although his tenure comes to an end soon, the Governor has promised the continuity of the projects he has embarked on.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Benin Chapter has called on the Federal Government to honour the agreement it reached with the union in 2009.
Members of ASUU UNIBEN who took their protest to the NUJ Press Centre in Benin City said they were on a sensitization as to the reason why they must continue in their strike to press home their demand.
The Union Members in their various speeches said the Federal Government convinced them with promises of sincerity and determination to fulfil the agreement before they called off their strike in 2009.
They however said there was no going back on the strike until all the demands have been met.
ASUU’s decision to embark on the strike which commenced on July 1st, 2013 was reached at its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nasir Issa-Fagee has said that the union embarked on the current strike because the Federal Government has only implemented two of the nine issues agreed on since 2009. Mr Issa-Fagee, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the government did nothing about the agreement until the union went on strike in 2012.
“On 2nd February 2012, the union decided to suspend that strike on the understanding that the Memorandum of Understanding that we signed with the government will be fully implemented within the shortest possible time,” he said.
According to Mr Issa-Fagee, the only two items of the agreement that have been implemented are the review of the retirement age of Professors from 65 to 70 and the reinstatement of prematurely dissolved Governing Councils.
“The other issue that mostly has to do with adequate funding for the system for revitalizing of Nigerian Universities have not been met by government,” he said.
ASUU had on Monday declared indefinite strike action to compel the Federal Government to implement the agreement reached with the union in October 2009.
Below is the text of the press conference addressed on Monday by Mr Issa-Fagee to explain the rationale for strike:
Gentlemen of the Press,
At the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, between 29th and 30th June 2013, a number of issues were raised on developments affecting the country’s education system and the Nigerian nation as a whole. These include the lingering crisis at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), the continued violation of the rights of the re-engaged 49 academics at the University of Ilorin, and the non-release of the White Paper on Special Visitation to the University of Abuja. Others include the parlous state of the economy, and Government’s disregard for its Agreements with our Union.
The Nigerian Educational Logjam
Gentlemen of the Press, the crisis affecting the Nigerian education sector stems largely from the failure of the Nigerian governments, over the years, to boldly address the suffocating challenges, which have stymied the development of the sector. It seems that while the Government is fully aware of the enormity of the infrastructural, personnel and other forms of decay at all levels, it does not have the courage to tackle these challenges for the good of the nation. This attitude on the part of Government has given critics the impression that perhaps Government is more comfortable with the uneducated class than it is with the educated one.
To compound this problem, the impression is often given that we are not in control of our educational policies as external and other influences have tended to show a national inclination to a weakened intellectual class which in turn prognosticates a desire for an ideologically barren, colonially dependent and financially deprived structure that is not primed for the growth and development of the system. ASUU challenges the Federal and State Governments, and other stakeholders who have responsibility for the education of the Nigerian people, to show great courage in implementing decisions, policies and agreements produced over time so as to put Nigerian education back on the fast lane. This should lead to the liberation of the Nigerian education system from the cloud of despair and despondency.
Gentlemen of the Press, you will recall that ASUU recently issued a Press Release over the untimely death of some Students’ Union leaders who were on their way to the University of Uyo. We used the opportunity to call for the common struggle to enthrone democratic governance in our tertiary institutions, with full respect for the rights of students to unionize. While this must be invigorated, we wish to note the unfortunate situation on our campuses today wherein most Students’ Union leaders, especially at the level of NANS, are possible drop-outs, government agents, Youth Corp members, and other questionable characters being foisted on genuine undergraduates in our universities by politicians and other officials of the State.
As a Union with a stake in the future of our youth and our nation, ASUU shall use her networks to monitor and identify the true status of those who currently parade themselves as student leaders nation-wide. We are determined to indigenize student unionism on our campuses. This is the only way the Students’ Union Movement can genuinely engage issues of noncommercial education with access to all; allocation of at least 26% of yearly budgets to education; declaration of emergency on the whole education system, revitalization of University system, etc.
The Crisis at RSUST
Gentlemen of the Press, you will recall that the crisis at River State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, has become a recurring decimal at our interactions with the media since August 2012 because it is an issue that is very close to our hearts. We remain steadfast in our support and solidarity with our members at RSUST in their principled struggle against poor governance and maladministration being perpetrated by the Vice-Chancellor and the Governing Council of the University.
It has become more evident that the Visitor to RSUST, Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, is brazenly adamant in his refusal to respect the laws establishing the University. The assault and harassment of our members in that University has continued unabated since the because of his determination to stick with the re-appointment of Prof. B. B. Fakae as Vice-Chancellor, after serving an undeserved first term which did not follow due process. The most worrisome dimension is the scandalous involvement of security agents in this show of shame.
Today, at RSUST, there is widespread abuse of university statutes and mind-boggling illegalities; unqualified lecturers teach postgraduate courses while examinations conducted without respect for requisite requirements. It is disheartening to observe that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has been playing an active role as an accomplice in the desecration of our University system by giving its approval to these despicable acts at RSUST. NUC’s continued disregard for its statutory responsibility as a regulatory agency, with the responsibility of maintaining the highest level of ethical and academic standard in Nigerian universities, as evident in RSUST, creates a grave cause for concern among the membership of our Union. We call on the National Assembly, through its oversight functions, to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the role of NUC in the shameless acts of executive obduracy at play in RSUST.
Re-engaged University of Ilorin Lecturers
You would recall that 49 lecturers of the University of Ilorin were unjustly sacked for participation in a nation-wide strike action of our Union in 2001. Despite the Supreme Court judgment, which re-validated their right to unionize and removed the toga of criminality woven around union activities by Unilorin authorities, their entitlements are still denied them. Three years after the landmark judgment, the University still withholds the salary and allowances of some of the affected staff while their entitlements for sabbatical leave and promotions have not been addressed.
We, once again, call on authorities at Unilorin to desist from gagging our members and pitching academics against themselves. A university scholar cannot creatively engage knowledge in an atmosphere of rancor and sponsored bitterness. Neither can they auspiciously fulfill their obligations as agents of change and transformation in their micro community and the wider context of humanity. We shall, therefore, continue to use all legitimate means available to us to protect and defend the interests of academics at the University of Ilorin. The Seemingly Intractable University of Abuja Crisis
Gentlemen of the Press, it is becoming crystal clear that the Government is insincere in resolving the crisis at the University of Abuja. As you are possibly aware, the Special Visitation Panel, which looked into the monumental crisis that engulfed the University last year, submitted its report in September 2012. However, the Visitor to the University, President Goodluck Jonathan, has continued to vacillate on what to do with the report of the Panel. Meanwhile, the Uniabuja Vice Chancellor, Prof. Samuel Adelabu, continues to operate like a lord and master whose words are laws!
ASUU-NEC calls on the Visitor to Uniabuja to release the White Paper on Special Visitation to Uniabuja without further delay. It is only by doing so and implementing the recommendations of the Visitation Panel that the University can be given a new lease of life that befits a 25-year old university.
IMF/World Bank and Nigeria’s Economic Development
Gentlemen of the Press, as you are well aware, the Nigerian economy is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies. Unfortunately, it is glaringly under the jugular clutches of Western economists, experts and interests who promote exogenous (external) instead of endogenous (internal) model of development. This model took a firm root when, in “the early 2005 a group of economists, mainly from the Breton Woods Institutions introduced the concept of Inclusive Growth (IG) to replace the erstwhile notion of Growth and Development (GD).” What is most significant about the IG model is its “attempt to run away from the need to accelerate economic development through deliberate policy interventions so as to move millions of humanity out of poverty”.
Having imposed the IG on the country by agents of the World Bank and IMR, it is little surprising that today “economic growth” does not equate to “Nigeria’s development” and prosperity of Nigerians. Key sectors that ought to provide the planks for development and prosperity such as education, power/energy, agriculture and health are in dire state. Government at all levels rather hoists frivolities over the essentials. As recently observed by Prof. Akpan Ekpo, “The implementation of the Transformation Agenda does not preclude the fact that the economy today is characterized by high and rising rate of unemployment particularly among the youths, decayed public school system at all levels, lack of quality public health system, massive corruption, security challenges, among others”.
ASUU-NEC rejects externally imposed models of economic growth that discounts human elements in the equation. The Bretton Woods experts can only further under-develop Nigeria and pauperize her citizens. This is because IG “stresses productive employment rather than income redistribution”; implying that the tiny rich Nigerians will continue to get richer while the mass poor will become poorer.
A non-insulated economy will only be a subservient economy. The solutions to our problems as a nation must be wholly Nigerian-based, Nigerian-driven and Nigerian-centered. The current reliance on the veiled but obvious drivers of our “envelop economy” being presided over and supervised by agents of the IMF/World Bank will only leave us in a worse state than the IBB era. The current jig-saw dilemma of economic blueprints of NEPAD, Vision 20 2020, Transformational Agenda, etc. are bound to fail in so far as they are not based on any indigenous economic paradigm.
2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement
You will recall that ASUU declared a total, indefinite and comprehensive strike on 4th December 2011 in order to prevail on government to sincerely and judiciously implement the 2009 Agreement it freely entered into with our Union. Specifically, ASUU identified the following key areas that were yet to be implemented:
i. Funding requirements for Revitalization of the Nigerian Universities
ii. Federal Government Assistance to State Universities
iii. Establishment of NUPEMCO
iv. Progressive increase in Annual Budgetary Allocation to Education to 26% between 2009 and 2020
v. Earned Allowances
vi. Amendment of the Pension/Retirement Age of Academics on the Professorial cadre from 65 to 70 years
vii. Reinstatement of prematurely dissolved Governing Councils
viii. Transfer of Federal Government Landed Property to Universities
ix. Setting up of Research Development Council and Provision of Research Equipment to laboratories and classrooms in our universities.
However, the strike was suspended on 2nd February 2012. As our Union noted then, “NEC decision had been taken in the interest of the revitalization of the Nigerian Universities. To achieve these goals, ASUU expects the government to fulfill its obligation in respect of funding and all other matters contained in its offers.” When the strike was suspended, ASUU drew attention to the fact that the unimplemented agreement was due for renegotiation in June 2012.
Following the suspension of the strike, government responded by setting up a Committee via TETFund to assess the needs of Nigerian Universities in terms of infrastructure and required quantum of fund. Government also mandated the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) to document and compute the financial implication of implementing the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement. At ASUU’s insistence, many of these conditions have now been met. Yet, the Government has continued to dilly-dally on the implementation.
Out of nine items earlier highlighted, only two of the commitment – reinstatement of Governing Councils and the Amendment of Retirement Age Act – were met. For the past 16 months, several steps, including formal and informal consultations, meetings, personal contacts, have been employed to avert resumption of the suspended action. We seem to have now exhausted all available options. Our members cannot understand why a Government finds it difficult to fulfill an Agreement voluntarily entered into with the Union in 2009 as well as the MoU that was introduced following ASUU’s protest against government’s demonstration of bad faith in 2012.
Gentlemen of the Press, one key aspect of the Agreement where Government has demonstrated insincerity is on the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA). Components of these allowances include responsibility allowances to Heads of Department, Deans of Faculties and other functionaries of the university system.
After the MoU of 26th January 2012, Government accepted in principle to pay EAA. As if to demonstrate its commitment, the IMC under the chairmanship of Dr. Wale Babalakin was assigned the responsibility of working out practical and sustainable ways to do this. When the IMC submitted its recommendations on this aspect of the Agreement, which has run into almost four years, however, the Government suddenly began to give excuses. And, finally, it set aside the recommendations of the IMC on the account of financial difficulties; these were recommendations that came out of serious engagements with officials from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Our Union sees this sudden reversal of gears as a betrayal of trust.
From all indications, it appears Government is yet unprepared to address the challenges facing the Nigerian University System with the urgency that is required. This trend is dangerous, as it constitutes a threat to the relative peace in Nigerian Universities. There can be no justification for Government’s position given what all Nigerians know about the management of the nation’s resources. It is evident that Government is highly deceptive and is not interested in sustaining relative stability in our universities. If Government can betray our Union on the 2009 Agreement, where is the basis of trust for the impending review that was due for 2012?
It is in the light of the above, especially having exhausted all other options, that ASUU-NEC at its meeting in Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, between 29th and 30th June 2013 resolved to call out all its members on a nation-wide strike action beginning from Wednesday, 3rd July, 2013. The strike action is comprehensive and total. Our members shall withdraw their services until Government fully implements all the outstanding aspects of the 2009 Agreement, and commences the process of review of the same Agreement.
Gentlemen of the Press, the time has come to rise in defense of the true liberation of our country. We believe this liberation must begin with education, which is a veritable weapon for socio-economic transformation. The IMF/World Bank and their local collaborators would make Nigerians believe that “basic” or little education is good enough for the children of the poor. It is a ruse.
Our Union counts on the renewed support of the media in challenging agents of underdevelopment who deny less-privileged Nigerians quality higher education, health, employment and other life-transforming elements of development. We equally invite labor activists, students, traders, professional groups, civil society organizations and other progressive segments of the public to join our determined efforts to save Nigeria from her captors.
The recent developments in the education sector leave much to be desired. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) stated that Nigeria’s illiteracy rate is about 45 percent.
Unarguably, the problem has a lot to do with corruption that has led to systemic failure in our society today. Yet, an uneducated society is simply a doomed society. The rate of growth and development of every nation is anchored on its level of education.
On Channels Television weekly programme, FaceOff, a parent blamed the teachers for the fall in standard of the Nigerian educational system while a teacher shifts the blames to the parents and household.
Watch the debate in the video below and share your thoughts on the matter by dropping your comments.