In case you do not understand the reason for the lingering ASUU strike that commenced on February 14, 2022 which has made students of Nigerian universities to stay at home for more than four months now.
In this exposé, we have listed and explained the major demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which led to the ongoing strike.
Most people believe the major cause of the strike is funds but you will be shocked to know that only three of the demands have financial implications while only two have to do with lecturers.
Demands That Led to Lingering ASUU Strike
An overview of the whole issue borders on
- The payment of Earned Academic Allowance, Revitalisation Fund.
- The payment of withheld salaries are not negotiable.
- The revitalization fund will be released to universities.
Major demands of of the Prolonged ASUU strike
One of the major demands is the demand for the deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System popularly known as UTAS.
UTAS was developed after ASUU got the permission from the government to develop an alternate system to the IPPIS.
According to ASUU, the IPPIS doesn’t recognize some of the peculiarities in the NUS ( Nigerian University System). Note that lectures in universities are entitled to allowances such as earned allowances, sabbatical allowances among others.
ASUU insist that IPPIS does not recognize the above.
At the height of the ASUU strike of 2020, the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige told ASUU that FG had agreed for the union to develop an alternate payment platform. UTAS was developed and according to plans, will be under the control of the Nigeria University Commission (NUC).
Unfortunately, the government is yet to accept UTAS despite the numerous tests conducted by NITDA. The government has continued to insist that UTAS failed integrity tests conducted by the National Information Technology Development (NITDA).
The arguments from the side of the government suggest that the UTAS is self-serving to the lecturers as it will bypass a critical element of the university system- independent the bursary architecture.
By this, the government wants to ensure that ASUU may lose its grip on the Nigerian university system if it is run by administrators instead of academics.
This is because, the academic staff in Nigeria outnumber the non academic staff in Nigeria where the non academic staff is less than 80% unlike other parts of the world.
Also the government fears that under UTAS, Heads of Departments maybe able to enrol new employees directly into the payroll and also do the monthly pay variations which will be sent to the Bursar.
And this job should be the job of a payroll officer and other bursary workers instead of an academic staff.
But for ASUU, Heads of Departments (HODs) cannot pay themselves. UTAS as developed is supposed to be housed under NUC not in the universities.
While bursaries can only collate pay vouchers according to approved templates. Which means academic units have no business with administration and payments.
Release of the white paper of visitation panels to Universities.
The Federal Government constituted a panel to look into the issues at various tertiary institutions in the country. It is believed that the report will help to know and understand the issues of NUS.
Recall that in February 2022, the ministry of education constituted 10 committees to draft white papers from the visitation panel of 36 federal universities, six panels for 25 polytechnics and five for 21 colleges of education.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the draft white papers have been received by the Minister of education since May 17, 2022.
Till now, the Federal Government has refused to release the report of the visitation panel. If released, the report may indict some Vice Chancellors, University officials among others.
Proliferation of Universities.
Another concern of ASUU which has led to the lingering ASUU strike is the proliferation of universities by the government. According to ASUU, the government has no business establishing new universities if it cannot fund the existing universities.
ASUU wants to stop lawmakers who continue to present bills to create universities. According to a report by The PUNCH, over 186 bills were presented by the 9th National Assembly (NASS) in four years for the creation of new universities. This is despite the fact that existing universities remain underfunded.
Another Demand Causing the Prolonged ASUU strike:
Renegotiation of the 2009 agreement
Finally, another reason for the lingering ASUU strike is the demand for Renegotiation of the 2009 agreement which contains the conditions of service, salaries and allowances inclusive.
For example ASUU is not comfortable with Professor at bar (10 years as Professor) earning 416,000 net while fresh PhD holders at the level of lecturer I grade earn 150,000.
To explain the pay of the academic Staff Union of universities in Details
A report filed in 2020 by all ALLAFRICA shows the pay figures below:
Assistant lecturer (N118,277 -N137, 334); Lecturer II has a doctorate degree (N129, 724 – N153, 563); Lecturer I has at least three years post-PhD experience on the job (N160, 809 – N203, 778); Senior Lecturer with at least six years experience on the job (N222,229 -314, 159); Associate Professor (with at least nine years experience on the job: N277, 179 – N350, 169) and a Full Professor with 12 and more years experience on the job (N332, 833 – 416, 743).
They get these after tax and other deductions. Before deductions, a newly appointed Full Professor has N437, 499 and after deductions he is paid N332, 833 monthly.
As stated earlier, a Professor “at the bar”, is one who has spent 10 years as a professor and that is when he/she can earn consolidated pay of N555, 351 and following deductions their net pay comes down to N416, 743 monthly!
For ASUU, the remuneration is very poor and lecturing is no longer attractive for brilliant minds thus they are prevailing on the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay academic staff living wages similar to what is obtainable in other African countries.
In comparison to other African countries, further research by GLAREINFO indicates that in Ugandan public universities, Assistant Lecturer earns $1,631; Senior lecturer, $2,432; Associate Professor, $3,891 and Professor, $4,054 per month, respectively.
In University of South Africa, a Junior Lecturer earns N10, 453, 326 – N17,427,663; Lecturer, N12,547,744-N20,910,248; Senior Lecturer, N16,272,983 – N27,891,819; Associate Professor, N20,224,232 – N32,564,902) and Professor, N22,325,844 – N37,209,741 per annum.