Last week it was reported that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities received only half of their monthly salaries.
Some of these lecturers who spoke with The PUNCH said that the Federal Government’s action was inhumane, illogical and could lead to a massive brain drain in the educator sector as witnessed in the health sector.
The Head of Department, Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Poju Tejumaiye, lamented that lecturers resumed work because they hoped the government would fulfill its promises.
He said, ‘‘It is so sad. We called off the strike in good faith but the government messed up, it is annoying giving us half salaries. Our job description was teaching, research, and community service and i was part of the team that went to Osun State during the election and that is community service.’’
He, however, said, ‘‘Since the Speaker of the House of Representatives has intervened; the Federal Government should let the sleeping dog lie. You cannot casualise lecturers’ job because we have to continue from where we stopped. Treating us this way brought back old wounds.’’
Also speaking, Prof. Adamu Yakub of The Department of Geography, Bayero University, Kano, condemned the actions of Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, whom he said had taken the whole crisis personally.
‘‘What the government did is an attempt to provoke members of ASUU to be portrayed in a bad light. But since we have survived all these months without salaries we will surely continue to do. Minister of Labour has taken the issue personally and nobody in this country is ready to call him to order. The implication of all these is going to be on Nigerians in the next five years. Many young Nigerians are leaving the country. It is not easy replacing lecturers when they leave, and it seems the government and the people are not ready for education. If these go on, by the next session, all universities will increase their fees. That is when people will start wondering why ASUU is not saying anything because we are talking now but they think we are talking for ourselves.’’
He advised the government to show responsibility, honour the agreement it had with the ASUU.
Prof. Francis Egbokhare of the University of Ibadan added, ‘‘A lot of young people are feeling demoralised already. I know a department in a university where 14 lecturers have left the school. We are toying with disaster and the brain drain we experienced in medicine is about to happen here. There is a lot of misunderstanding of what academics do. If they don’t pay us, it means if you were supervising students, you may not return to them. A lot of people in the past have subsidised the system by buying data for students, supporting the university for accreditation a lot of contributions from the pocket of lecturers all of these will be stopped and the real situation of the university will be laid bare. Personal ego has gone in, you can’t find convergence when ego goes in, it is amazing the level of arrogance of leaders in government.’’
Similarly, Prof. Jacob Ayantayo also of the University of Ibadan, Religious Studies explained that it was a betrayal of trust which ASUU reposed in the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
‘’I sense power tussle. I sense inconsistency on the part of the Buhari regime as we can not see a synergy between Gbajabiamila’s effort and that of Ngige. All these happenings will have repercussions for all stakeholders in education including those who think they are immune now. Way out is amicable reconciliation for the sake of all of us now and the posterity,’’ he said.
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