FG set to review university autonomy laws over incessant ASUU strike
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has revealed plans by the Federal Government to review the autonomy laws of public universities.
The Vice President disclosed this on Monday at an event organized by the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja to mark the 60th anniversary of the NUC and the launch of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CIMAS).
This is coming against the backdrop of the incessant strikes that have bedevilled the university system in the country, with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) demanding improved welfare, revitalization of public universities, and autonomy for universities, among others.
Tackling ASUU strikes: Osinbajo, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, stated that one of the major challenges affecting university education in Nigeria is the incessant strike actions by various unions in public universities. He said:
- “The most recent strike actions by the university-based unions have necessitated a revisit on the issues and scope of university autonomy by government.
- “This will lead to a review of the university autonomy laws to appropriately address funding, including staff remuneration, institutional governance, and administration, as well as issues relating to internally generated revenue.”
Disadvantages of strikes: He noted that the university system has cumulatively lost over 50 months from 1999 to date as a result of strike actions by ASUU.
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- “I doubt if there is any country that has lost such amount of time to strikes in its university system. From the first strike in 1978 to date, all the issues have remained the same. The agitations have been primarily on funding, university autonomy, and remunerations.
- “I need to stress here that government alone cannot fund education in the country. It is therefore imperative that a sustainable model of funding university education must be developed,” he said.
For the records: Most public universities across the country have for the better part of this year been shut down due to the strike by ASUU. Thereby crippling the university system.
ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on a 4-week total and comprehensive strike to press home their unresolved demands on the federal government.
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- Some of the lecturers’ demands include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, which amounts to N1.1 trillion, payment of earned academic allowances, and adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a preferred payment option, instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and payment of promotion arrears.
- Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement and the resolution of inconsistencies in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
- However, following a court ruling in October, ASUU called off its strike, with the relationship with the Federal Government still not cordial.
- The striking lecturers in October were paid half their salaries, even as their 8 months’ salaries were withheld, with the federal government insisting on its ‘no work no pay’ policy.
- The Federal Government also defended the pro-rata payment, saying the workers could not be paid for work not done.
- The National President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, blamed Ngige for allegedly authorising the part payment, describing him as an “interloper.” He further expressed confidence in the Federal Government to resolve ASUU’s agitations.