The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is asking the federal government a simple question. Why NNPC, NIDC, CBN, FIRS and other lucrative revenue parastatals are not in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS? Up to today there is no sufficient answer from the side of government regarding this question raised by the ASUU Chairman, University of Abuja branch, Dr. Kassim Umaru.
There is dichotomy in every sphere of Nigeria. There is dichotomy between degree and higher national diploma, human rights in respect to gender opportunities, fit people between physically challenged persons, the rich and the poor, politicians and civil servants, state workers and federal government workers and dichotomy in almost everything.
The dichotomy between teachers and other staff of other organisations is a cancerous one that keeps having negative impact on Nigeria’s development. The dichotomy yields corruption which is a vulture that eats our prosperity despite campaigns against it, teachers that supposed to have the most conducive environment than other civil servants in the country, because they are the giver of all knowledge and the makers of every profession are left with sympathetic words that their rewards are in the heaven. Does this means our political leaders and other workers that are paid juicy salary dont like the reward of the heaven?
Teachers are left with peanut to cater for themselves when compared with staff in other organisations. Fresh workers from juicy organisations collect more than an academic doctor in Nigerian higher institutions of learning while politicians at the national level collect more than the amount any prestigious professor in this country is earning. Former senator of Kaduna state, Shehu Sani, revealed that a senator in Nigeria collects 750,000 million as basic salary while plus allowances the monthly package is N14.25 million while a professor collects less than a million naira. This difference is what keeps inflating corruption in Nigeria.
The reason for stipulating juicy salary for some organisations is because the organisations are revenue generating institutions, according Kassim Umaru. Then what about our education? Does it mean our education is not important for the development of our giant African country? Education is the bedrock of any development and the keystone to our strong future but in Nigeria teachers are the least concern when it comes to welfare even though teaching is the most tedious work because of its complexity of research, coordinating, supervision, marking and more.
Education in Nigeria has been suffering in the hands of Nigerian leaders since the First Republic with low budgets. Between 2003 and 2013, education budgets fluctuated from 8.21% to 6.42% in 2009. In 2019, N520.5 billion was allocated in the budget and in 2020 6.1% was budgeted in education against UNESCO of 26% budget recommendation. All the budgets are lower than most other African countries which hovering around 11% and 30%. When compared with many African countries and some Asian countries, one would expect Nigeria to have similar per capita income (PCI), Global Innovation Index (GII), Human Development Index (HDI), etc. Unfortunately that is not the case because Nigeria is stronger than many but Nigerian graduates are not productive like their counterparts because of poor funding of education, Professor Idris Bugaje,” Skills not Degree”, 2019.
Nigerian universities lack sophisticated infrastructure and social amenities such as water, good and conducive environment of learning for effective teaching and the instability of power in the country poses great challenge in educational research and innovation. The number of university applicants is increasing rowdily every year. There is a great tension on the rejection of ASUU enrollment in the IPPIS. The government has bowed to stop the salary of the academic staff of universities since December and ASUU has been mobilising its member for industrial strike if the governments stop its members salary. The IPPIS system comes with its problems because many staff of the captured MDSs have not been receiving their intact salary while some have not receive theirs yet while others are given higher than what they supposed to earn since the commencement of the payment of staff through the IPPIS.
The national body of ASUU has criticised the activities of IPPIS as a fraud that will not yield a better prospect for education and its staff. To ASUU the IPPIS will only make more harm than good in the Nigerian circle of education. President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi opened to President of the Senate, Senator. Ahmad Lawan when he paid him a courtesy call that the IPPIS will not yield better result for the growth of education and will also mar the right of the academic staff lecturing visitation which closes the gap of academic man power. The stand of ASUU is that the IPPIS violates the autonomy of universities of Nigeria. The autonomy of university is enshrined in Section 2AA of the University Miscellaneous Provision Amendment Act of 2003 which explains the role of the Governing Council and the ASUU 2019 agreement with government.
Strikes by Nigerian educational institutions disrupt education and pose negative impact on students. This is why it is very important for government and ASUU to seat round the table and have a stance for the sake of Nigeria students. A Nigerian proverb says when two elephants fight only the grass suffers, meaning only the children of the poor will suffer the strike most. There is need for man power in Nigerian universities and curtailing the restrictions of lecturers’ visitation will create a big vacuum in education system and leave many universities empty. Though, ASUU is not rejecting to be in the IPPIS but soliciting a convenient payroll system that will help education and their payment for other extra work, government should consider their request for the sake of Nigeria education and equity based on the ASUU Autonomy Act 2003.
Goronyo, lecturer, Mass Communication, Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna, writes via