The troubles in the Nigerian Education sector have compounded as lecturers in public universities have started moving out of the country to seek better opportunities over the lingering Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
The ongoing ASUU strike began on February 14, 2022, to agitate for the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
The union on August 1, 2022, rolled over the strike for additional four weeks, following alleged failure by the government to address the issue.
The union who raised the alarm over the exodus of lecturers from the nation’s universities for greener pastures abroad attributed the development to the Federal Government’s poor treatment of its members which it said had forced many to venture into other sources of livelihood.
Speaking on Sunday in an interview, the National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, lamented that many lecturers had taken to farming and other economic activities, while a large number had left the country.
ASUU accused the government of failing to release the revitalisation funds for universities; failure to deploy the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.
ASUU had also demanded the release of earned allowances for its members; release of the whitepaper report of visitation panels to universities and renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/2009 agreement.
Speaking on the mass exile of lecturers from the university system, Osodeke stated, “So many lecturers are leaving to engage in farming and others; lecturers are tired of the treatment they’re receiving from the government and because of this, they are looking for alternatives. So many more will leave even after the strike too.
’I pity the country; Nigeria will be the loser for it. Instead of coming to the table; look at how they will solve the issue, rather, they believe in punishing lecturers. It’s so sad. Your lecturers went on strike, you believe they will become hungry and come back to beg. Many lecturers will also leave to venture into other areas; some are also looking at becoming self-employed.”
The ASUU Chairman, University of Lagos branch, Dr Dele Ashiru, revealed that more than 70 per cent of the brightest brains in academia had left the country, adding that the government had been so disrespectful and insensitive to the scholars.
The impact of the government’s insensitivity and deployment of the weapon of hunger might not be immediately known until after the strike. As I speak with you, more than 70 per cent of bright and promising young academics retained by the university through mentorship have all left the country for greener pastures due to the poor conditions of service in Nigeria.
‘’Those that are left are on the verge of leaving. No government in the history of Nigeria has been so insensitive, brash and disrespectful of the best brains in the country. This is unfortunate and a shame,’’ the don lamented.
Ashiru, in an interview with Arise TV, monitored by Headlinenews.news correspondents on Sunday, said the union was not going to call off its strike action as done by the other academic unions.
He said, “ASUU is a union of intellectuals, we don’t look at what others do to make our decisions. We make our decisions based on verifiable facts and the facts available to us have not shown this government to be a responsible and sensible one.”
Corroborating his colleague, the Chairperson of ASUU, University of Uyo chapter, Dr Happiness Uduk, confirmed to one of our correspondents that some lecturers had left the system.
She said, however, that she could not specify how many of them had already left UNIUYO.
She stated, “I cannot tell you how many there are because I am not sure about it. But I don’t think what is happening in other universities is different from ours. It is true that people are getting opportunities and leaving the system; we have heard about people who have left already.”
It was also learnt that some lecturers at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, had similarly resigned and relocated abroad.
The Chairman of the ASUU chapter of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, said the number of his members that had left since the strike commenced was not known yet.
Egbedokun, however, declared that he would encourage those who desired to leave to do so because of the Federal Government’s poor handling of education.
He added, “It is impossible for us to know until school reopens. That is when we can know because no one will give us notice that he or she is leaving. It is the university that would be notified, not the union.’’
But I will encourage as many people as possible that want to move on, to move on. That is the reality. Nigeria has been plunged into the mud. I have never seen this kind of callousness in my life,” Egbedokun concluded.
Meanwhile, the leaders of Nigerian students under the aegis of the Council of Student’s Union Presidents have vowed to sue the FG over the prolonged strike by ASUU members.
This was disclosed by the Students’ Union Government (SUG) President of the University of Jos, Joshua Adankala, in an interview with Headlinenews.news Correspondent in Jos, on Sunday, August 21, 2022.
Adaka said “We are planning to take them (FG and the ministers of education; labour and employment and others) to court. The court action has become imperative because we can’t take the continued strike anymore.”
The CSUPs which comprised the students union governments in over 100 universities in Nigeria, in the first week of August, stormed Abuja where they lamented the continuous loss of students to incessant killing from bandits’ attacks as a result of their prolonged stay at home caused by the strike.
The President, the National Association of Nigeria Students, Sunday Asefon, said the association was still holding talks with its legal team after which it would decide the next line of action.
The Education Minister last Thursday asked students affected by the ASUU strike to sue the union for liabilities suffered as a result of the industrial action.
But giving an update on NANS’ decision to take the government to court on Sunday, Asefon said they were still consulting with their legal team.
The Students’ Union President of the University of Ibadan, Adewole Adeyinka, spoke on the plan to sue the government.
“We are concluding on this by this week. We are holding a meeting with some stakeholders in Abuja this week but we won’t disclose their identities now,” the student leader said.