We Have An ASUU Problem

For I while now, I have been making the wild/provocative/unfounded/incendiary/baseless claim that 90% of lecturers in Nigerian Universities are pretty much useless or not fit for purpose. Sadly no one has taken me up on this to ask me to prove how I came about this number.

So I’m going to have to raise the stakes. I am by no means a rich man but if I beg, borrow and steal, I am sure I can raise N1m. This is the deal – if any Nigerian University faculty will agree to a simple performance test of all the teaching staff there, I will donate the N1m to a charity or cause of their choice, provided more than 10% of them pass the test. The tests wont be designed to save me N1m so 40% of the questions will be questions the lecturers themselves have recently set for their students. The pass mark will also be 40%. So if they can answer their own questions satisfactorily, they will just about make the grade. The rest of the questions will focus on checking how much personal development they have undertaken since they themselves qualified as lecturers and general knowledge on education and academics.

I am confident that I will win simply because it is almost impossible for me to lose.

But that’s not the point of this blog post. We are currently in the middle of another strike which has an ending more predictable than a Nollywood movie. Government will cave in and agree to meet most of ASUU’s demands (usually sometime in the future) and ASUU will go back to work. Once we have a change in government (could be the same government but with a new election mandate) or even change in minister, the new guys in charge will then proceed to completely ignore this agreement and express surprise that it even exists at all. Then ASUU will strike again. Ad infinitum. World without end.

Having been a victim of a Nigerian University with at least 3 ASUU strikes as part of my ‘educational experience package’, I can confirm that the quality of teaching from these lecturers does not improve one bit whenever they return to campus after such strikes. If anything, some of them can’t even remember where they were before they responded to the cries of aux barricades and dropped their handouts.

In normal circumstances, it is useful to ask why teaching doesn’t seem to improve after government meets ASUU’s demands even if temporarily. I am also certain that the problem is not really funding per se. Nigeria is really a poor country, so any solution we come up with, no matter how well-intentioned, will have to operate within the constraints of lack of funding. President Goodluck Jonathan has at least increased funding of education to a priority. You can quibble with the amounts dedicated to education but he has at least shown his priorities by allocating the highest budgetary amount to education – N433bn or 8.7% of the total budget. The reliable guys at Budgit also tell me that of this amount, N219bn is for Universities

You can of course quickly see the problem – whatever budgetary increase that goes to University education is likely to be ‘captured’ by ASUU because…well because they can. There is an emotional aspect to any ASUU strike – it is ‘our children’ who end up suffering and of course no one wants to see this happen. So in these ASUU vs FG fights, ASUU’s victory is always guaranteed…it is always only a matter of time.

As I said earlier, I have been a victim of a Nigerian University so let me randomly address some points below. Apologies if my thoughts are all over the place, such is the nature of tirades.

1. Unilag is not the Nigerian University system. Due to its location, it is difficult for lecturers to get away with some of the abominable stuff their colleagues get away with once you cross the Berger bridge and exit Lagos.

2. “Nigerian universities have produced some brilliant minds in the past” – this is one of the greatest myths out there. No such thing has happened. The evidence is in the lack of consistency in this production. Let me roughly describe what happens i.e. what is mistaken for ‘production’.

Students arrive from their various secondary schools into Nigerian universities. Note that private universities that can be selective i.e. cream off the smartest kids are a fairly recent phenomenon. Previously, even if you went to a secondary school that cost N100m per term with the best teachers, your choice was a Federal or State university or going abroad. In short, the very best Nigerian students from everywhere end up in the same universities (remember also that only a minority of students pass JAMB making the process even more selective). You will get some very brilliant students (who already know how to apply themselves) and some really bad ones (totally not ready for prime time) in this mix. There is no production going on, there is co-opting. You will see this reflected in the next 10 to 20 years when the gap between those educated at private and government universities starts to widen to the point of being alarming. If we start getting scholarships institutionalized in Nigeria, this process will happen much quicker.

The idea that Nigerian universities ‘produce’ brilliant minds is also laid to waste by the lack of a minimum standard to their products. There is no limit as to how bad a graduate of a Nigerian university can be. Many waltz through for years, receive lectures and come out ‘unscathed’. It is therefore bizarre to use a (pre-packaged) minority as evidence of ‘production’ or anything for that matter.

What I found in my experience is that usually in 1st semester of 100 Level, some students quickly distinguish themselves sometimes with a perfect 5.0 GPA. The lecturers then use this to identify such students and the co-opting process begins. By the time the student reaches 300 Level, it becomes impossible to maintain the performance they started with without the lecturers ‘approving’ it. By the time this student is approaching graduation he/she has been so embedded in the culture of the faculty and been used like a graduate assistant that upon graduation they end up being ‘retained’ and themselves become lecturers…the system offers them ‘security’ so they don’t have to go and start looking for work when they graduate. As I said, Unilag is different because the smartest kids cant be blackmailed into this kind of system.

You might wonder what the problem is with this kind of system – but think about it, what if Harvard ‘retained’ its brightest students as lecturers every year? Would this be better than the current system where there is a Harvard alumni at the top of every major organization across the world? Any university should be eager to send its students out in the real world because it is the greatest recruiting tool it will ever have.

3. A friend tells me that Unilag’s law faculty currently has 3 Harvard trained lawyers as lecturers there. They are earning 5% of what their contemporaries around the world are earning but they remain there either out of patriotism or love of teaching or both. I don’t doubt that they choose to remain there (when they can go elsewhere) for altruistic reasons. Indeed I have seen this before and I blogged about how I was once treated by Dr Martin Aghaji at UNN teaching Hospital. Dr. Aghaji chose to remain behind at the height of the brain drain when lesser doctors were in Saudi Arabia earning a fortune (he was also making decent money from a monopoly on x-ray services but nothing compared to what he could earn abroad). I am convinced that he remained behind partly if not mostly because he wanted to train Nigerian doctors.

Back to our Harvard trained lawyers – even if we all agree that their motives are entirely altruistic, do you think anyone of them will reject the chance to be paid more in their current jobs? Certainly not. They are evidently currently underpaid. So let’s conduct a small simple experiment.

Say there are 100 lecturers in total and the total budget for their pay is N1m so each lecturer gets paid N10,000. If you sack the bottom 10% of lecturers for non-performance and redistribute their pay, each lecturer gets an 11% pay rise. This is a simplistic zero sum argument with the assumption that resources are finite but it describes to an extent what is going on with ASUU.

The really good lecturers will never be paid anything near what they are worth because the system carries so much dross and deadweight. It works well for a cabal that protects its members but it is a wasted system on university lecturers which heavily penalizes the really good guys. The ASUU collective bargaining system treats lecturers like they are all the same. This is a complete joke. Lecturers are skilled people (or at least they should be) in the way that the top footballers are skilled people – it is in very rare circumstances that a footballer who cant trap a bag of cement will become the highest paid player in the league because the feedback is almost always instant.

Currently there is no system of weeding out the truly useless lecturers as they can simply hide under the ASUU umbrella and get a pay rise when everyone else gets it. But like any other job that requires skill, talented people are always rare so it is perfectly normal for them to earn as much as is possible. To get this to happen, you will need to break up the ASUU system.

I recently completed an MBA and I had the good fortune to be taught by some really good lecturers. These guys are almost always on freelance contracts that allows them to maximize their earnings in the most efficient way possible. So for example the guy who taught me International Business Strategy spends around 9 months of the year traveling the world teaching and consulting. Is he the only one who can teach Business Strategy in the world? Certainly not. But the more he teaches, the better he gets and the more skill and experience he accumulates so it is to the university’s benefit to ‘sign’ him on given that the only way it can get students to pay fees is to promise them they will be taught by the best lecturers. Besides teaching, he also does all kinds of consulting work in places as far away as Papua New Guinea (where they eat human beings).  Have you ever seen a Nigerian university advertise a course on the strength of its lecturing team?

Those 3 Harvard guys at Unilag’s law faculty should be teaching across Nigeria and being paid for it. Other schools should be adjusting their timetables to fit into their schedules – the ultimate aim always ought to be that students get the best possible teaching while they are in the University. Again, the private universities are starting to understand this. Recall that some years ago, Professor Ben Carson was a visiting lecturer at Babcock’s medical school. If you’ve read any of his books, you’d understand how much of a coup this was by Babcock.

When I was writing my MBA dissertation, I was allocated a supervisor from an American University who lived in Canada and North Carolina. We had to schedule our Skype calls to fit his schedule due to time difference. Was he the only person who could supervise my project? Certainly not. But having interacted with him and the speed with which he got into the meat of the matter, I knew he had been doing it for a very long time.

These are random examples but they are almost impossible in the current system where a lecturer who is enjoying his teaching has to drop his chalk in solidarity with his union just so everyone can get a pay rise. Many of the really atrocious lecturers wont be able to command the kind of salary they currently do if they were to step into the real world and find their own lunch. This system greatly favours them.

This point is worth repeating – the current system seriously penalizes the lecturers who are actually very good and reduces their ‘discoverability’ to nothing more than word of mouth.

4. The Nigerian university system can function with half the number of lecturers it currently has. I am being generous here given that I continue to insist that 90% of them are not fit for purpose. But in all the debate about education in Nigeria and ASUU strikes, I have never heard ASUU mention anything about a performance based system. The reason for this is simple – as Thomas Sowell once said, ‘people who enjoy meetings should not be put in charge of anything’. More often than not, those in charge of ASUU are the least productive lecturers when it comes to the actual business of lecturing. Such people will hardly ever be in favour of a system that is meritocratic – for them procedures and ‘agreements’ are everything, outcomes are nothing.

It is almost comical how some really good lecturers line up behind these characters as their union leaders. But then this is human behaviour. Even if for only 5 minutes, you can sometimes be best friends with your worst enemy if interests are aligned. The purpose of ASUU is thus to make us continue to believe that without them, the sky would fall and no student will get taught anything ever again.

5. Perhaps the greatest indictment against ASUU is how there is absolutely no incentive for lecturers to improve themselves continuously. Why should they? Pay is not linked to performance in any way so as long as you are a union member, you will get a pay rise the next time a fight breaks out between ASUU and government. This is a very serious problem and I speak as someone who was given extracts from Soviet Russian ‘economics’ textbooks in the name of studying economics. And no, I didn’t go to university in the 70s when these ideas perhaps still carried some weight.

It is depressing how the ‘debate’ about education always comes back to how much we pay our university lecturers. But Nigeria is not a rich country so almost by definition, it will always be possible for our best brains to get better opportunities outside our shores. Alas, education is one of the things (at least in part) that will help us break free of poverty so this ‘debate’ is an endless merry ground really.

I am certain that ASUU’s end is nigh. The day when they will go on strike and no one will pay them any mind is coming sooner rather than later. Usually, unions who specialize in holding everyone else to ransom are the last to figure out when they have become totally irrelevant. Last year, an American baker called Hostess filed for bankruptcy. Hostess used to make a popular and storied brand of cake called Twinkies. Its workers were also heavily unionised of the sort that just didn’t know when to stop. Hostess also used to make a bread known as Wonder Bread. To guarantee themselves work, the unions, on pain of strikes, got the management to give them contracts that said Twinkies and Wonder Bread could not be delivered to stores in the same trucks. Truck drivers were also not allowed to do the loading of the Twinkies or Wonder Bread. Also, if you were a Twinkie loader, you could not also be a Wonder Bread loader. This sounds funny but it’s not a joke. In the end, the company filed for bankruptcy which enabled it to fire as many workers as it could and start life afresh a few months ago.

There is no evidence that there was a scarcity of cake or bread in America while the company was in bankruptcy.

The day ASUU becomes irrelevant, many people will be amazed that teaching will not stop taking place in Nigerian universities. Indeed, you’d be shocked at how teaching quality will go up when there’s no longer anyone to fight for the dross.

FF

* I deliberately left out the Nigerian government from this post because I wanted to talk ASUU. The government is not of course blameless in all this – certainly the stupidity with which they sign agreements and then try to back out of them is worthy of flogging on its own. The FG also lacks the moral standing to do what is right as it never initiates the conversation about higher education in Nigeria. It is always backed into a corner by ASUU.

Perhaps this even proves my point – ASUU is unable to teach the government a lesson it shouldn’t forget because…its members don’t know how to teach 🙂

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49 thoughts on “We Have An ASUU Problem

  1. Thanks for helping us understand how ASUU is decontributing to our children’s futures. Could it perhaps die a natural death with the increasing number of private universities? A scenario where even more investors in private university education enter the market, saturate the market, intensify competition, drive down costs to a point where it becomes affordable to more students. Current ASUU/lecturer system becomes unsustainable and gets exposed for what it really is.

  2. Interesting blogpost Feyi. At the heart of this piece is a sincere frustration with the very idea of unionism. The fact that a collective can agree to press their demands on the strength of their numbers. It would not be good to argue this point with you. No time.

    I would speak from my experience however. I graduated from University of Ibadan, Psychology department. I can clearly boast on the rigor the lecturers in that department demanded of students. Weekly essays, group assignments, projects and term papers. At the time we hated these lecturers….in due course i owe my ability to create schema for work projects, presentations and consulting work to the week on week pace of work I was faced with. I graduated in 2002.

    Our lecturers didnt take pleasure in ASUU strikes as such but they made the best use of it. Many would go on sabbaticals, be signed up on projects with multinational reform agencies etc. These guys were razor sharp. I can bet my last dollar these guys would win your N1M wager quite easily. 🙂

    Is the same in every university in Nigeria? clearly no but i do not believe there is absolutely no performance rating system in schools to ensure the best get promoted (tenure) and the worst either get fired or stay in one spot. I know some lecturers in UI for instance who are still where i left them in 2002. Without doubt they were the least performing of the teaching staff. The best have become Doctors, Professors and many have helped start up departments in private universities across Nigeria while some are abroad on sabbatical.

    A big annoyance for me is that though the President has “prioritized” education, and university education for that matter..the money is really earmarked for the establishment of totally new universities rather than to strengthen and widen the capacity of the existing universities.

    I daresay that in 2013, no government should be opening a new university but should be rapidly expanding and deepening facilities in existing institutions. The President has established “white elephant universities” (one in his hometown i believe} that would take years to gain any form of local or international credibility.

    This is the real problem….that in trying to give education a priority they have successfully made a waste of the newly appropriated budgets for education. ASUU is not faultless but the standard of teaching should be the job of the government to insist on not ASUU.

    If they pay the piper, they should demand “skelewu” and not “azonto”

    Idiare

  3. Fantastic analysis FF. ASUU’s irrelevance gets closer no doubt. Lecturer Skill set in today’s Nigerian UNIs is more a forgotten issue than not. From Interpersonal relationship to Leadership and Concept cultivation, Lecturers are in the dark. In My 100 Level days, I was told by a Distinguished Lecturer during a GST Course that Resolutions are made by Wise Men. Today’s ASUU echelon is bereft of Wise fellows I dare say. Militant Actions and Self loving interest override purposeful intentions. Nevertheless, the future of education for Nigeria clearly doesn’t reflect the present.

  4. It’s interesting how you’re foreseeing ASUU being indispensable at some point later. I do not think that would even solve the problem as these lectures need to be protected. If the FG can sign an agreement and breach with such a reckless association, how much more regard would it have if the cream of the crop lecturers went about handling their businesses. I do not even think the fact that there is an ASUU stops them from contracting themselves.
    ASUU I must say is a very indiscipline association but still necessary to fight for the rights of even the not-so-bright lectures. It’s up to the universities to decide who should/shouldn’t be impacting knowledge.

    I think ASUU needs a rebrand, these universities need to come up with better ways to get the government more committed.

  5. Feyi Fawehinmi : I honestly wish the problem is as simplistic as u wrote… the problem in Nigerian Educational system is more systemic than what u think… Just today, I was telling a friend that the solution to the current strike problem shouldn’t take up to 3 hours to resolve, but it seems those negotiating (on both side) are making some cool profit (or whatever), hence the usual cat and mouse game…
    On test for lecturers, pls bring your test to my Dept (I sure needs some extra cash)… and do take the test to other Univ (dont use MBA to judge it, use the staff on ground for your test across the world), I can bet that the top rated Nigerian Univ and Western Univ score will be within 5 – 10% range.
    On the issue of staff developments; the problem is not whether the good lecturers go for staff developments (research fellowship, etc.), the problem is whether the Univ will allow the ‘good’ lecturer to go (mind u, this is at NO COST to the Univ, good lecturers will always get fund for their traveling). Yes, there are several pple in several places that are NOT qualify to be there… I don’t know the Univ u attended, but saying 90% of lecturers in Nigerian Univ are not qualify to teach is using sledge hammer to kill mosquito… I’ve been to Europe n co (for research fellowships), and I know that the problem with most Nigerian Univ is MORE than the quality of staffs (we have good and qualify lecturers, and yes, we also have those u described in your write-up). I teaches Chemistry, what do u suggest I do when I’m suppose to teach with an equipment that I only use when I’m abroad?! My view about strike?!
    I never like strike (whether as a student or lecturer), but I just don’t know what will make the govt wake up to its responsibility and this is part of the reason WHY every Union (ASUU inclusive) blackmail govt all the time. When a father refuse to be responsive and responsible, his children will take him for granted.. On private Univ: if u know 1/2 of the hanky panky thats going on there (including the Faith-base Univ), u will realiase they are not the panacea for improve Univ education in Nigeria. However, there are some points u raised that I’m not proud to say that u are righ

    1. Mr Lecturer. Not being rude but having read your comments above, I can actually understand Feyi’s standpoint. Your command of the language is dreadful. There are multiple grammatical and spelling errors in a write up of just a few lines…I shudder to think what you actually teach your students? You have inadvertently reinforced Feyi’s point sir. Again, do accept my apologies for being frank and brutally honest here. No offence sir.

      1. “On private Univ: if u know 1/2 of the hanky panky thats going on there (including the Faith-base Univ), u will realiase they are not the panacea for improve Univ education in Nigeria. However, there are some points u raised that I’m not proud to say that u are righ”

        You remind me of BSU Chemistry Lecturers and their boring classes back in the days.

      2. Kenneth, I’m a University lecturer and I’m indeed proud to say so. I’m currently on Commonwealth scholarship in the United kingdom pursuing a PhD and I must tell you from my international exposure so far, the command of the English language is the least yardstick to gauge the intelligence of a lecturer. Even here in the UK, one comes across lots of grammatical and spelling errors in write-ups and comments of supervisors and these are British, not to talk of other Nationales, especially Asians. But I tell you, these guys are quite sound intellectuals and authorities in their respective fields. So it’s quite myopic for anyone to judge the academic intelligence of a lecturer by his/her written English. Besides, this guy teaches Chemistry and not English Language for goodness sake! So, really I’ll say your argument is a tad shallow, no offence meant.

  6. compared to your previous articles, at least the last one i read, this article strike me as being a tad emotional. why? the main point i get is that ASUU does not regulates itself (members) to enhance performance. But is ASUU a regulatory agency? Pray tell how ASUU should periodically weed out the bottom 10% of its members? Pl note my inclination, am not defending ASUU (an association that seeks to promote members interests), but rather expressing my dismay at your arguments.
    After an MBA abroad, if the above points are the only once you can muster, then am really not surprised about your views.
    And you are very wrong, there are incentives to promote excellence, like research grants. Unfortunately, there aren’t many local agencies funding them.
    As per your challenge, can you contact the child and adolescent mental health department, college of medicine, university of Ibadan, or the department of psychiatry, of the same college?(i can help with that and you hav my email already) just raise the money substantially to make it worth their while.
    of course it will be donated to a patient fund if they win.

    1. By the way, I agree that ASUU are not a regulatory agency so I am not asking them to weed out the underperformers in their ranks. My points are simple 1) The conversation we have about education in Nigeria everytime has to change. ‘We need to pay lecturers more’ is NOT a strategy to improve education in Nigeria 2) It is up to students and parents to stand up to ASUU and demand different because as I said, the govt lacks the moral authority to do it.
      Otherwise we will be repeating this cycle for generations to come. Or until forces beyond anyone’s control destroys ASUU.

      1. To my mind the real culprit in this equation are the parents. On one hand both professionals or otherwise keeps breeding, and still they are continually want highly subsidized but high quality education. Howz that going to be funded? Tell, which good university in the world can you become a good Dr for instance while paying just only a cumulative amount that is less than 100k over 6yrs? Parents keeps increasing the burden expecting some one else to pick the tab. it just baffles me.
        The indirect economic consequence is even lost on all of us…higher number of kids means higher burden for government on one hand. on the other hand the lost productivity is just too high. Longer period in Nursing for the family, higher expenses to prevent child mortality and morbidity. Those resources could have been invested business that could generally move the economy upwards.
        ASUU is going nowhere in the foreseeable future with Nigeria’s high fertility rate.
        Just my opinion.

  7. I think there are more exceptions than you think among the lecturers out there, you would lose your wager in many faculties around Nigeria. I can confidently tell you that the lecturers in my department at UNAAB do not fit the profile of the average Nigerian lecturer you described. They are committed to excellent scholarship and have genuine interest and passion in their research, and most of them undertake development courses, projects and partnerships locally and abroad at their own cost even. However, I agree that the situation is terrible and we have too many lecturers for whom their job is just another vocation; an occupation not a respectable profession as it is supposed to be. I wrote a post about one of my lecturers on my blog, that was one of the worst experiences I had in school, for some others, that was normal.
    I also do not believe that UNILAG is different, yes there are some exceptions there, it might belong to the league of the early prestigious universities – UI, OAU, UNN, ABU etc but it is much not different from the average Nigerian Federal University. I have friends who studied there who report the same issues prevalent elsewhere.
    The issue of best students being retained by their departments is another disease that promotes mediocrity. It is a form of intellectual inbreeding that crystallize, which I believe does more harm than good. I think what University departments can do for their brilliant students is to help them get jobs in prime companies they partner with, support their further education in other good schools and then maybe after like 7 – 10 years, if those students are still interested in academic positions, the university can offer them those positions… that way, you can be sure they are getting the best.
    As much as I would blame ASUU, I would always blame the government more. Forget the figures allocated to education, why did Jonathan establish 6 more universities when the present ones were not sanitized yet? What in God’s name is NUC doing on Universities regulation and supervision? It appears all they do is just accredit new private universities. Government creates the environment; it sets standard, implements and enforces it. If that environment is not there, anything will happen, which is exactly what we’re seeing here.
    I must agree sha, your post is very good and I think it is high time we engaged the representatives of ASUU in a public debate on education delivery, and thier sincerity/committment to the quality education they are crying about.

    1. Everybody is now saying their own lecturers are good bla bla bla. As bad as my own university experience was, I can point to one or two lecturers who were actually useful.
      But until we have a genuine performance based reward system, anyone who says their department’s lecturers are good is simply doing guesswork and is behaving exactly how ASUU behaves i.e. employing emotional arguments to drive home their point

      1. The system is greatly flawed and in need of reformation. Yes. But there are some who inspite of it drive themselves the extra mile to produce quality service and research. There works speak for them, among their peers internationally, they are respected. No emotional attachment about it. It’s just my observation.

    2. And you are absolutely wrong about GEJ building new universities. It makes perfect sense. JAMB has turned into a lottery because we simply do not have enough space in our universities for the number of people who write JAMB every year.
      Even if everybody who writes JAMB in a year obtained a perfect score, NINETY PERCENT of them will NOT gain admission because that is all the space we have. Please go and check the JAMB numbers again.
      What kind of scam is that? How can 90% be guaranteed failure even before the exam starts?
      Building new universities makes sense in terms of partly solving the demand problem so it is not something to criticise GEJ for.

      1. Building new universities makes perfect sense, given the figures. I agree. But, in our own unique situation, that is putting the cart before the horse. A government that has proved totally incapable of maintaining the few universities, how can they manage a few more? “He that is faithful in little is faithful in much…”. That was the very same argument we had during the fuel subsidy removal of last year. Sanusi and Okonjo made sound economic arguments, but Nigerians did not trust the government to manage it well. We wanted them to prove that they could manage the present resources before removing subsidy. It’s almost 2 years since then, haven’t we proved our case? Did anything really change?
        There’s such a thing as doing the right thing at the right time. Build the universities present, make and enforce sound policies first of all, then you can start establishing new universities. JAMB is another matter. We don’t need it. Universities should do their own entrance examinations, to give students more options.

      2. How does it make sense to build more universities? am shocked!!! To my mind the real culprit in this equation are the parents. On one hand both professionals or otherwise keeps breeding, and still they are continually want highly subsidized but high quality education. Howz that going to be funded? Tell, which good university in the world can you become a good Dr, for instance while paying just only a cumulative amount that is less than 100k over 6yrs? Same for Engineering, Law etc. Parents keep increasing the burden, expecting some one else to pick the tab. it just baffles me.
        The indirect economic consequence is even lost on all of us…Higher number of kids means higher burden for government on one hand. on the other hand the lost productivity is just too high. Longer period in Nursing for the family, higher expenses to prevent child mortality and morbidity. Those resources could have been invested business that could generally move the economy upwards.
        ASUU is going nowhere in the foreseeable future with Nigeria’s high fertility rate.
        Just my opinion.

      3. I look forward to the day (not far ahead)…. when I can be the lead adviser on the deals to privatise these new universities 🙂

  8. There is no evidence that there was a scarcity of cake or bread in America while the company was in bankruptcy…… Hehehe

  9. I do agree with you that not all lecturers should be paid same as they offer different value. One lecturer that has worked for international organizations as a consultant regularly will now be paid same salary as his colleague who has never left the university? It is just wrong.
    Truth is, ASUU, like most Nigerians, are still thinking Nigeria is in the 70s where we were awash with oil money, and sadly, we squandered it. There is no effort to adopt new thinking to reflect the times we are in.
    We need a holistic reform of the Nigerian tertiary education sector. We need to wake up to the realization that govt cannot and will not fund tertiary education to world-class quality, and we pay nothing for it. The money isn’t just there.
    Sadly, the politicians and policy makers are afraid of a public backlash, so they keep lying to us about govt funding education and improving it.
    We keep believing that Nigerians can’t afford to pay tuition fees, even when the stats show that we pay $6bn in school fees abroad.
    We need a mindset change to enable us tackle this tertiary education problem head-on.
    Here are a few ideas:
    http://omojuwa.com/2012/12/proposal-for-tertiary-education-in-nigeria-by-amasonic-opesays/

  10. Profound thoughts and a skilful deviation from the norm of merely looking at the problem from the angle of ‘govt is at fault’ that we apply to every matter in Nigeria. I wrote this piece on my blog that looks at the problem from the same angle but with another perspective: why must ASUU always resort to strikes? It seems the only time one hears of them – no national summits, no national symposia, no mention of the ‘agreements’ until they start issuing their warning strikes and ultimatums. What efforts are they making towards adapting their methods to work better within a democratic structure where constant engagement, mass enlightement and publicity work better than ‘we no go gree’ or downing tools? I wrote about all these in this article: http://demolarewajudaily.com/demola-today-time-asuu-call-strike/ and I think ASUU needs to have a rethink about this strike.

  11. I read this article and couldn’t help but agree more with what the writer penned down. It is indeed tragic especially considering the fact that this unwholesome culture of unionism has eaten deep into the fabric of our society and it cuts across every sector. Even in the informal sectors of the Nigerian economy. It stifles growth, innovation, creativity and productivity. Just like Margaret Thatcher had to battle the unions in the United Kingdom before she could reform the economy and move Britain forward, we have to destroy these ubiquitous unions in Nigeria if we must move this nation forward also. I understand the need for freedom of association but we cannot continue to sacrifice our collective good for the selfish interests of a few who have formed themselves into a gang under the umbrella of trade unions or professional unions or whatever they chose to call themselves. ASUU, NURTW, Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos State Barbers Association etc, they are all the same set of jokers who use union power to perpetrate mediocrity and unproductivity all in guardianship of self interest.

  12. I don’t know where to start on this but I really am moved to share my personal experience. I attended the University of Lagos for my undergraduate program and I studied Chemical Engineering. I then moved on to the Pan African University’s School of Media and Communication for an M.Sc. in Marketing Communication. When I got to the PAU/SMC, I was in shock. The huge gulf between the school and Unilag was almost terrifying. That was the only time that the academia became an alluring field. I engaged lecturers like Dr. Austin Tam George, Dr Tsaaior, Prof Emevwo Biakolo and Dr. Tayo Otubanjo of the LBS. Only then did I understand how much work these lecturers put in to publish in key journals around the world. What of the access to lecturers all around the world who were open to help with term papers and projects simply because you invoked the name of a co-author of a paper? I understood how the school had to leverage on the wealth of experience and the vast academic and professional interaction of these lecturers to make the school worthy of choice.

    This article captures my thoughts in beautiful words. We are running a system that is NOT sustainable. We may delude ourselves for long but if private universities really push themselves far enough, they could just be the future and the public universities, with their increasing tendency to go on strikes, are relegated to the dustbins of history. What shall we say about the structures of the universities? Of how one would finish a 4-unit course in Engineering and would have to run down to Sciences for another 4 unit course in the very next hour? Or the ridiculous politics that contribute nothing to the academic glory? We need help.

  13. Feyi, you’ve taught me one thing today- I need to start my own blog! The points you make in this post have been running around in my head for the last several months- the unions will drive Nigeria to bankruptcy. They also subsidise the daftest and most corrupt, while keeping the smart ones down. Any talk of deregulation causes fright bcos then, everyone would have to fight for a shirt.

    I feel you!

  14. Good read. However permit me to disagree on this point – “whatever budgetary increase that goes to University education is likely to be ‘captured’ by ASUU because…well because they can”. This statement isnt true. ASUU is just a pressure group made up of academic staff. SSANU and NASU are other key stakeholders who are also rightful beneficiaries of the largesse. Not forgetting the SUGs. Also ASUU doesnt allocate or disburse funds as this is done by the University Council. Hence, i fail to see how one body can capture the funds as you seem to suggest.

    1. All you have to do is look at what has happened in the recent past really.
      Students cannot strike neither can ‘infrastructure’
      But ASUU can strike so they are at the top of the queue when it comes to government money

  15. Feyi kindly read your post again and ask if you properly constructed the problem facing our tertiary education? is it possible for you to hold certain variables constant while trying to understanding the dynamic complexity of a system driven by human decisions?? Would it not be better to spend time to better understand the system first before attempting to define a problem?? how about helping your reader understand why the tertiary education and the relationship between FG and the Union has been fraught with conflicts and mistrust- what has been the trajectory of performance and what is responsible for it??? to say passingly that the FG is not blameless shows how weak your argument is. Is the FG’s role and decisions passive to how the system has evolved??? all these half baked construct and understanding will keep us in the hole we have found ourselves while exciting those who fail to think deeply about the root causes of a problem.

    1. Oga,

      Story abeg. The truth is more often than not very simple. What requires complexity is evading the truth.

      I’ve been through a Nigerian university. I’m an end user of the system and I made my arguments as such.
      If you want to make a ‘complex’ argument that takes into account every single side and of course takes the govt to the cleaners, what exactly is stopping you?
      I certainly don’t have time for that. Like I said several times, I’m interested in changing the conversation to what exactly are ASUU offering us in exchange for their demands

  16. Funny enough, I read the rejoinder before this, your arguments were exactly mine, I thought the demographics put foward via the rejoinder was on a “as usual” basis, it clearly explains how we prefer numbers that are impotent and designed for face saving purposes.
    As you rightly observed, a time would come when we would no longer care about ASUU, the essence of a union that cares about arrears and pocket penalties are almost over.
    As prof said too, the thinking model needs to change for ASUU, I wish he started from that point, we would have had a perfect balance. I also know that to the general rule of Pacta Sumt Servanda there is an exception. Mr FG, let’s start with FF’s points, it has flesh beyond the sight of bare bones staring us in the face.

  17. Pingback: Rejoinder: We Have an ASUU Problem | proudlyekiti

  18. Your Hostess’ analogy – “everyone” knows the union argument used in the filings was hot air.
    The company had been taking up debt for years with poorly thought through mergers. At the same time, management were giving themselves several (unjustifiable) raises for dated products. Even with the restructuring in ’04 with concessions from the union, it wasn’t going anywhere. Someone said it well: “liquidation is a proper burial when you sell products no one wants”.
    Like BTCGM’s (the union), no one is telling ASUU’s story or telling it clearly.

    And about the depression, it will pass once we start paying a tenth of your MBA fees here in Nigeria.

    1. My MBA fees came to £20k. It’s not a secret. A tenth of that will be about N500k or N200k per annum seeing as I did it over 2.5years.

      If you say that will solve our problems or make things better, maybe you are right

      No point responding to your Hostess point as you didn’t bother responding to mine but as usual created your own point to argue against

  19. Pingback: ASUU Part Deux: This Time The Facts (And Only A Bit of Speculation) | Agùntáṣǫólò

  20. Pingback: ASUU Part Deux: This Time The Facts (And Only A Bit of Speculation) | wazobiajournal.com

  21. Let me say that ASUU is not a regulatory body. It is simply a union of lecturers. I think it is (or should be the job of the (NUC) to regulate University education in Nigeria. Thus all these points/questions of yours should be directed to the NUC, hence the Federal Government. Second, no other language is as practical to these government as a strike. No one gets to listen to the unions until there is a protracted strike (even this blog). Of course as intellectuals, that’s what they will employ.
    Third, research needs funding. What many of you fail to realise is that some of these lecturers use a large chunk of their salaries to fund research and experiments such that at the end of the day, they have little to actually take home.
    Lastly, how do we invite the Private Sector to our Universities when we have poor infrastructure, poor organisation and the country itself is in shambles. The education system in a country goes a long way in reinforcing and reinventing industries.

  22. Pingback: ASUU Part Deux: This Time The Facts (And Only A Bit of Speculation) | Y! Opinion

  23. Pingback: ASUU Part Trois: A Test Of Sincerity | Agùntáṣǫólò

  24. Pingback: ASUU Part Trois: A Test Of Sincerity | Y! Opinion

  25. Pingback: ASUU Part Deux: This Time The Facts (And Only A Bit of Speculation) |

  26. Pingback: ASUU Part Trois: A Test Of Sincerity

  27. Pingback: A Discourse on Tertiary Education | atamssokari's Blog

  28. Pingback: RE: ASUU Strike | rosanwo

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