UNTIL 1978, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was simply known as Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT). The “upgrade” seemed to have altered the psyche of the profession, the kind of problem that comes with “measuring up” to new sensibilities. As teachers from 1965 to 1978, the thinking must just be different. Now, as lecturers, the big men and ladies of the university, the mentality too, must be different. No, it has nothing to do with fighting for one’s due. Teachers also fight for perceived rights. Even as teachers, university academic staff weren’t dormant on the issue of welfare. Only that the focus wasn’t as narrow as it is today. But whether as teachers or lecturers, dues must be due.
Issues in lecturers’ agitation have become so befuddling that the most efficient sifter would do a yeoman’s job, separating the sensible, from frivolities.
One area the lecturers are losing it, big time, with regular strike action, is parents and their ward-students becoming less concerned and looking elsewhere for sabuke (apology to my Ilorin friend). That receding “we beg now” should worry ASUU before it becomes a matter of eebu alo ni tahun (overdo has consequences); that is if it hasn’t become already, considering that many who should be sympathetic, are lost in the miasma of their usual whimpering.
Sincerely, ASUU isn’t just raking up ruckus, even if troublous. Education junior minister, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba attested that nothing was new in the current imbroglio, save that the country had never been this broke, not even during war time. So, no money to meet demands and blackmail was thrown in, to make the 10,500 professors in the employment of the Federal Government, out of the 71k total uni lecturers, look the gluttons, swallowing university funds, like the JAMB cobra, feeding on money. The ministerial claim that some countries have less than 2,000 professors also suggested that the axe is about to be laid to the tree, considered unfruitful and occupying space.
One strategy Abuja also has to drop is blackmail, whenever the turf is muddy. It isn’t serving, and won’t ever serve, anyone. Annual salary of a professor in Nigeria is between N4.58 million and N6 million, for both state and federal institution. That is between 10,000 and 13,000 dollars per annum at the current exchange rate. At the extreme, that is 136.5 million dollars for all professors in a year. That is just the salary of less than 800 professors in Switzerland, where the average take-home per annum is 171,000 dollars, first among the top ten global earners, which include Australia ($140,000), Netherlands ($122,000), UK $(105,000), Denmark ($105,600), USA ($102,00) Finland ($95, 000) Canada ($93, 000) Germany ($92,000) and France ($82,000). How does that make professors in Nigeria gluttonous? Before looking at numerical strength, Mr Minister should also consider the ratio to population. Period!
True, the country is going through hard times, all man-made. Yes, God may have used corona to remind men He is still ruling in their affairs, but the plague would not have come upon us, if we hadn’t gone too far for God. Now, He shakes just a thing and everywhere is experiencing violent vibration. I understand the president’s showboating on salary payment only to lecturers on the controversial IPPIS, going forward. The Federal Government is like the debtor who is using bold face to scare away the creditor. Ijesa will call such a fellow odolugbeku. IPPIS is a midway arrangement for those already in service. While it can be compelling for those coming into the system newly, it would be retroactive for those already in, before its advent, if being rammed their throat as a law. Everybody is clear on the consequences. For a desperate cash-strapped Federal Government and habitual rough-neck ASUU, I foresee a repeat of August 7, 1988, only that this time, the two-fighting, won’t go away with any presidential proclamation. Instead of needless eyeball-to-eyeball to prove manliness, government should consider how to give unto Caesar, his due and Caesar, must stop coveting what is of the Lord. What about education tax for foreign firms in Nigeria, starting with DSTV?
Source: Tribune Online