In a piece last year, I explained the illusive demand from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to expect the federal and state governments to fund major components of public universities while having no say. In other words, ASUU wanted 100% autonomy even as it wanted more government funding. In our contemporary Nigerian scene, that would not happen if you understand that Vice Chancellors are quasi government appointees. If you expect a Nigerians state governor to send $10million to a university and allow the professors to spend as they want, you are not real.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), a union of university academic staff, is a great institution which continues to ensure that Nigeria has the manpower to compete locally and globally, besides producing graduates that will handle the affairs of the nation. We respect ASUU and certainly commend some of the most brilliant people, in their generations, who have stayed to teach in our schools.
Yet, ASUU is not blameless. The evidence-based and empirical constructs the professors teach in our universities do not apply to how they agitate, against the Federal Government of Nigeria. They make bold demands without examining the basis of such demands.
If you check these five items, there is no way they could be in our sentence or paragraph, realistically. Why? You cannot have university autonomy and expect the government to be funding you nearly 100%. So, the governor or the President will always like to run the university as a “business” because the school is part of the line cost item. If you think a governor will fund a state university and leave ASUU to appoint the Governing Council, which provides a good avenue to settle political associates, you are dreaming. If you think a Vice Chancellor will adhere to ASUU when the governor is the one that ratifies anything he does, you are wasting your time. The Vice Chancellor, largely, is a political appointee disguised on an academic robe.
Sure, you can argue that most U.S. state universities have a high level of autonomy despite funding from the states. But that is America where even without the public funding most professors can fund their salaries through grants. The supports from states are largely to help reduce tuitions and scale things that help the local economies.
So, the news that government is planning to ask students to pay N350,000 per year in public schools in Nigeria is scary [N350 is $1]. Government should not do that as the only thing Nigeria offers the common man is largely free public university education. If you remove that benefit, the system has been rigged across generations as social mobility will be stunted. I am not sure up to 5% of Nigerian households can afford that kind of money when the Nigerian Labour Congress is still agitating to increase minimum wage beyond N18,000 per month. The implication is a huge dislocation that a father’s annual salary cannot even pay for a child’s school fees in a public university. It would be unfair to all citizens who salute the Nigerian flag.
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Biodun Ogunyemi, has reiterated the stance of his colleague that the federal government is planning to force students in public universities to pay N350,000 tuition fee per session.
Punch newspaper earlier reported the allegation. According to the report, ASUU’s Ibadan Zonal Coordinator, Ade Adejumo, said this when he was addressing reporters at the Oyo State Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ibadan, the state’s capital.
Mr Adejumo said the objection of the union to the proposed tuition fee increase led to the collapse of 2017/2018 renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement.
We need to learn from Malaysia which is heavily subsidizing education. As Bill Gates noted many months ago, infrastructure does not mean only roads, airports and bridges. Yes, there is human capital infrastructure which is even more catalytic to the wealth of nations. Without educating the young people, the roads will add only marginal value. So, if we need to increase school fees in order to have the capacity to service loans we are taking to build roads, I will prefer we stop road projects and educate our citizens. If the citizens are educated, they would build the nation. That is a better option than building roads and having a generation that will rise in agitations.
This is a bad policy and Mr. President, I do expect, will not approve it. Nigeria should be looking at how to make education more accessible
The federal government has denied the N350k school fees increase but ASUU is yet to give up on the accusation though. Possibly, government floated it as part of ways to raise money to pay whatever ASUU was demanding. ASUU is fascinatingly ingenious to bring it up few months to election. Do not bet that this is the last word: wait for the election to pass.
The Federal Ministry of Education on Wednesday denied that the federal government planned to increase tuition fees in Nigerian universities to N350,000.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the allegation by the lecturers’ union, ASUU, that such was being considered by the government.