*Says Education Does Not Matter To Nigerian Leaders Because Their Children Are Not In Nigerian Universities
*Says While Nigerians Are Rushing To Lecture Abroad, No Foreigner Would Ever Want To Lecture In Nigerian Public University
*Says Welfare And Payment Of Nigerian Lecturer Is Degraded
*Says Government Lacks The Will To Address The Plight Of Lecturers
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has lamented the poor state of education in the country. In an interview with PUNCH Newspaper, the President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, said while Nigerian lecturers go outside the country to teach, no foreigner will want to teach in Nigeria, not even a foreigner from Benin Republic.
According to him, the welfare and salary of teachers in Nigeria have been degraded.
He said, “Well, if you recall, the issue we are talking about started in 2009 when ASUU and the Federal Government reached an agreement on a number of issues, including the funding of our universities, welfare of our members. We also agreed that our agreement would be reviewed every three years and now this is 12 years after and that agreement has not been reviewed. You should also know that at that time in 2009, our exchange rate was less than N100 per dollar and today it is about N500 per dollar and what that means is that even the salaries of lecturers have been reduced by 500 times and nothing has been done.
“Our reality is that while Nigerian lecturers go outside the country to teach, no foreigner can come to teach in Nigeria. Any country you go to, you will see a Nigerian lecturing because of the fluidity of the university system in those places, but nobody from outside this country, not even from the Republic of Benin, will want to come and teach in Nigeria because our payment and welfare have been degraded. The situation is that universality is leaving the Nigerian university system. That was one of the major issues we talked about in 2009 that the government refused to implement.
“Two, the cost of training one Nigerian student effectively is about N1.2m. But today, we are not anywhere near that. We don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have the laboratories.
“In 2012 when the Federal Government did NEEDS Assessment, all these issues were brought out very clearly and the government agreed with us that over three years, they would devote about N1.3tn to revamp the Nigerian university system. The first tranche was released in 2013 by (former) President Goodluck Jonathan and that was the last time that a major amount has been released. So, what we are talking about is that agreement, all the Memoranda of Action and Memoranda of Understanding that we all signed, including the last one that we reached in December 2019. You are also aware that after our strike, at that time, they agreed to release by January 2020 N30bn as revitalisation fund, but till now that money has not been released.
“We have been very patient in the interest of the Nigerian students and the Nigerian populace but government has to work hard to address the issues they agreed to in December 2009.”
ASUU also explained that it’s demands are not tough. He said the leaders lack will to address the plight of lecturers and university system. He also described it as a ploy by the government to create two classes of children – the class for the rich who get quality education abroad to take over from nudich positions and the poor who get less qualitative education in Nigerian Universities.
He called for enactment of a law that will prohibit government officials from taking their children abroad for studies
“One, it’s the (lack of) will; two, it is a ploy by government to ensure that you have two classes of Nigerian children–the class of the rich and government officials who go abroad to get quality education, who will come back and occupy their so-called lucrative positions in the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation soon and the children of the ordinary Nigerians who have to attend our universities that are not funded and cannot compete with the children of the rich.
“There was a bank that was going to go bankrupt about four years ago. The government gave a bailout of over N1tn to revive that bank owned by private people. But ASUU has quoted that N1.3tn was needed to revamp all Nigerian universities, whether federal or state for the past three years and the government said they don’t have money. Does that make sense? You can bail out just one bank with over N1tn and then the entire universities in Nigerian put together, you can’t put in N1.3tn.
“Today, the only problem we have is education; once you kill your education system, your country is gone, which is what we have today. The money they use to award contracts for railways and others is more than what we are asking for. Education is the key and number one. There was a Prime Minister in Britain, who said his number one priority was education, number two was education, number three was education. But for our leaders, education does not seem to matter to them. You know why? Because their children are not in Nigerian universities.
“If we can have a law that says that once you are in government or you take a government appointment, your children must school in Nigeria, the system will change.
“About two weeks ago, I understand the President of Nigeria–(Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)–established four new universities. Is there anywhere in the world where you have University of Transportation, does it make sense?
“If you want to teach transportation, why don’t you go to an existing university and start a Faculty of Transportation and fund it appropriately? Why establish a University of Transportation, Maritime University, University of Medical Sciences? Where were they in the 70s and 80s when our universities were doing well? What we are saying now is that Nigeria has transformed university to what we refer to as constituency projects not as universities to serve the needs of the people. These are part of our concerns.” Osodeke said
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